Tropical vegetables, including varieties developed by East-West Seed in the Philippines, are now grown in other parts of the world and exported to Europe.

By Zac Sarian

This was observed recently by Ric Reyes, Global Product and Market Combination manager of EastWest Seed based in San Rafael, Bulacan. At the Fruit Logistica exhibits in Berlin, Germany, he saw fruits of Suprema pumpkin bred by East-West. The fruits were produced by farmers in Costa Rica and are now exported to Europe by David Morales Garcia, a Costa Rican trader.

At the Milan Central Vegetable Market, Davide Cinquanta holds Palee ampalaya while Paolo Ambrosoni (right) holds bottle gourd. Both veggies are varieties bred by East-West Seed.

He also saw fruits of bitter gourd (ampalaya), ridge gourd (patola), and bottle gourd (upo) at the Logistica exhibits that were grown in Ghana, West Africa. He was pleasantly surprised to see Palee, the warty ampalaya variety that East-West developed for the Indian market. The East-West varieties grown in Ghana are being exported to Europe by Srighan Farms, managed by Pon Satheesan, whom Ric met at the trade show. Mr. Satheesan is a member of the Federation of Ghanaian Exporters who are advocating Global GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certification. They are advocating the adoption of state-of-the-art fresh produce handling.

Ric also visited the Milan Central Vegetable Market in Italy and discovered that the East-West varieties are also being sold there. Palee ampalaya is being sold at the equivalent of ₱180 per kilo, according to him. He added that the native Europeans are learning to appreciate Asian vegetables, especially those with well-known health benefits like ampalaya.

Ampalaya and finger pepper bred by East-West at the Milan vegetable market.

He learned that the increasing number of Asian migrants to Europe is the reason for the growing prevalence of tropical vegetables in that part of the world. The vegetables are now being grown by farmers not only in Asia but also in other tropical non-Asian countries.

Ric also learned from traders he met that in Costa Rica, East-West papaya varieties are being grown there for export to Canada.

This story appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s August 2017 issue.