By Raul B. Palaje, Mary Ann S. Silvestre, Allan B. Siano, And Melissa B. Palacio

Emmanuel L. Vidad, a mango farmer in Isabela, increased his harvest almost threefold, from 4.5 metric tons per hectare (mt/ha) to 11.76 mt/ha. He is one of the adopters who benefited from the science and technology (S&T)-based interventions for mango introduced by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), the Isabela State University (ISU), and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

Vidad has been attending hands-on training sessions and lectures on mango production technologies such as integrated crop management (ICM), postharvest quality management (PQM), and good agricultural practices (GAP), quality assurance (QA), and traceability concepts since May 2012.

Immediately after finishing the training courses, he applied the appropriate S&T interventions on his 1.7 ha farm, which had 200 closely spaced mango trees. Vidad practiced thinning or cutting unproductive trees due to close planting distances and overlapping canopies. He also practiced fertilization, sanitary and corrective pruning, and integrated pest management. As a result, the yield of the mango trees increased, and fruit quality also improved, with 97.32% of the fruits being marketable; only 2.68% were rejects. Pest damage due to fruitflies, and disease damage from anthracnose and stem end rot also decreased.

Vidad sold the mango fruits for P13/kilogram at a buying station in Tuguegarao City under the “all in” system, in which all mango fruits were bought except for the “bioko” or overly small and fruitfly-damaged fruits. After a total production cost of P29,620, he gained a net income of P230,276, which translates into a 777.4% return on investment (ROI).

“I am truly grateful to DOST, PCAARRD, UPLB, and ISU for the mango project, and for the technical and marketing assistance they provided to mango growers in Isabela,” Vidad said. He added that the profit from his current mango production helped him complete the payments for his family’s house and lot, and acquire farm inputs for corn production. He also no longer needed to take out loans which came with interest rates of 5%-10%. “I hope mango growers will be more receptive, and be able to perceive the benefits of implementing S&T-based interventions for mango.”

Vidad’s success story is part of the initial output of a three-year project titled “S&T-based ICM, PQM, and GAP Adoption for Mango,” funded by DOST and PCAARRD. The project aims to increase the supply of safe and quality mango fruits; it also aims to enhance the access of Philippine mangoes to high-end markets to answer the growing demand for quality and safe mangoes.

Through the use of the clustering strategy, mango clusters or groups have been organized in Isabela, La Union, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Quezon, Guimaras, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, General Santos, Sarangani, and North Cotabato. A cluster or group is composed of 5-10 growers and contractors. Mango cluster members were chosen based on the following requirements: (a) their commitment to producing quality and safe fruits; (b) their ability to provide a substantial marketable volume; (c) their willingness to follow recommendations and share information; (d) their financial capability and willingness to shoulder production costs; and (e) the accessibility of their farms. The clustering strategy enabled the mango cluster members to meet, interact, and be trained on S&T-based practices. During these sessions, cluster members are guided on the proper implementation of these practices throughout the project.

In Isabela, ISU project leader Raul B. Palaje, in collaboration with UPLB, trained ten cluster members (including Vidad) on mango production technologies in May 2012. Generally, mango growers in Isabela follow minimal farm practices due to their fear of added costs and labor. Traditional farm practices usually result in low quality mango fruits and poor yields.

Vidad’s success, however, helped mango growers realize the importance and benefits of S&T-based interventions. It also motivated other mango cluster members in Isabela to adopt the S&T-based interventions on their own farms and actively participate in the training sessions. The improvement in their harvests and marketing techniques also encouraged cooperation and openness among the cluster members. Mango clustering in Isabela effectively ensures the good quality of the harvested mangoes. In addition, learning and sharing of lessons on farms has been facilitated with the clustering strategy.

The ongoing project is seen to improve the productivity of mango and the quality of life of the mango cluster members. It aims to replicate Vidad’s success story in all project sites and encourage local government units to sustain the adoption of the S&T-based interventions.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s February 2014 issue.