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National mango congress set in Laoag City
by Catheryn Villorente - Friday, 11 March 2016, 09:05 AM
www.mb.com.ph: March 9, 2016

Once again the mango stakeholders are holding the annual National Mango Congress. This time it will be on March 15 to 17 in Laoag City with the mango growers headed by Mango King Ricardo Tolentino as host.

Once again, the problem of profitability for the farmers are expected to be brought out and as in previous mango congresses, cooperation among growers in Luzon, Visayas

In Luzon, particularly in the north, the bulk of mango harvest comes in the months of April and May. And if the Mindanao growers also time their harvest in the same months, prices inevitably tumble to unprofitable levels.

Virgie de la Fuente, president of the Mango Industry Foundation Inc.  (MIFI), has also been urging the mango growers to cooperate with one another so that they only supply to the processors mango fruits with stipulated prices before delivery.

She tells of sad experiences in the past that when the processors find out that there is a bumper harvest, they will lower their buying drastically. Virgie has had preliminary talks with factories in Vietnam with IQF or Instant Quick Freeze facilities. The MIFI will export the fresh mangoes to Vietnam for eventual export to Europe and elsewhere. Hopefully, the local processors will not be able to dictate the low price that they usually want.

Speaking of IQF, this is the latest technology that has many possibilities not only for mango but also with other fruits and high-value vegetables. Freezing is really quick with IQF compared to blast freezing which has been in the market for many years. In IQF, the commodity is frozen in a matter of 3 to 5 minutes, according to Virgie, compared to about an hour in the case  of blast freezing.

The great advantage of IQF is that the quick-frozen farm produce retains its freshness and nutrients when it reaches the end user abroad. In the province of An Giang in Vietnam, Antesco is a big company with IQF facilities that can quick freeze no less than 12.5 tons in one hour. The main commodities that they are freezing now are baby corn, sweet corn, snack fresh soybeans and various vegetables for export. There is only a little amount of mangoes because of lack of supply.

Meanwhile, Virgie revealed that an IQF facility is slated to be established in Northern Luzon very soon. This could be an important facility that could add value to mango harvests aimed at the local and export markets. It will also provide other opportunities for the quick-freezing of other fruits like jackfruit, guyabano, dragon fruit, banana, strawberry as well as a lot of vegetables.

Virgie revealed that the chief executive of the company that supplies IQF machines will do a presentation of the technology before attendees of the mango congress.

MARKETPLACE – By the way, the mango congress is a marketplace not only of technologies and ideas but also of commercial inputs needed by the industry. These include fertilizers, growth enhancers, crop protection products, machineries and equipment. One of the exhibitors is Charlie Meridores whose Better Harvest can significantly improve mango productivity. When sprayed on the tree with flowers, it prevents fruit drop and the fruits become bigger and sweeter.

PROVINCIAL SUPPORT – Gov. Imee Marcos is giving her all-out support to the mango congress. She is very much concerned about the mango industry in the north. In fact the province at one time provided P5 million to fertilize 100,000 mango trees and that resulted in an 18 percent increase in production.

Meanwhile, Ricardo Tolentino quipped during the mango congress in Cebu last year that no registration fee of P2,000 will be charged to those coming from Visayas and Mindanao. The catch is that they should arrive in Laoag five days before the congress. Was that a joke?

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