By JULIO P. YAP, JR.
AN engineer who is presently employed in one of the 5-star resort-hotels in Metro Manila decided to utilize his expertise in an effort to help improve what he calls the “deteriorating” mango industry in his hometown on the island-province of Guimaras.
The province of Guimaras has been known for producing some of the sweetest mangoes in the world – earning the moniker as the “Mango Capital of the Philippines” from local and foreign tourists.
Engineer Alberto G. Teruel, a native of Sitio Banacan in Barangay Cabalagnan, Nueva Valencia on Guimaras Island, said he contemplated to revitalize the “deteriorating” mango industry in his hometown by applying the new technology he has learned from the pursuit of his profession.
He attributed the deterioration to the old practice of the local residents by simply applying flower inducers and traditional caring of the mango trees, which he said are already centuries old.
Teruel said that Guimaras mangoes have a very high potential as fresh or processed export product.
He lamented, however, that mango production in Guimaras remained constrained be several problems which limit its full potential.
He cited the occurrence of pests and diseases, poor soil nutrition, low adoption of new technologies, and high post-harvest losses.
Teruel said these factors have caused substantial reduction in fruit yield and the quality of the mangoes.
“With the proper technology, I’m optimistic that the island’s mango industry would eventually be revitalized,” he explained.
Using the technology he learned from his experience, plus the technical support he is getting from the Allied Botanical Corporation (ABC), Teruel now has about 20 mango trees under his care – all are carabao variety.
“Each tree can now produce at least one-ton per cropping season,” he proudly says.
Under the old farmer’s practice, he said that each tree could only produce about a fraction of one-ton, or approximately 2,500 kilograms.
Considering that majority of the mango trees on Guimaras Island are already centuries old, they remain productive up to this time – but could provide a better yield with the use of new technologies.
Teruel said that the 20 mango trees under his care, with the help of his relatives who are residents of the island, have become very prolific.
He cited the technical assistance being extended by Dorry Fadriquela, the National Capital Region (NCR) area sales manager of the Allied Botanical Corporation, and the biotechnology that he is applying for the improvement in the yield from his mango trees.
ABC supplies the inputs to Teruel like the Nordox 75, Agroblen, and Peters foliar fertilizer.
After using Peters, Teruel has observed that the fruits maintained their sweetness, it strengthened the flowers and prevented them from premature falling, adding that it is effective as an anti-stress agent.
Teruel also uses the Mightybio, which he said is processed calcium nitrate, as base fertilizer.
He is optimistic that the other mango farmers on the island would also try to innovate to maintain the quality of the Guimaras mangoes, which he describes as the sweetest mango in the Philippines.
Ripe mangoes of Guimaras have been considered by many as the best fine-tasting and very nice to eat – owing to its unique sweetness and exotic taste.
Guimaras mangoes are firm-fleshed, have a sweet-smelling aroma, and the seeds are very thin, and have smooth peel.
There have been previous attempts to cultivate the Guimaras mango in other areas but the trees failed to produce a similar-tasting fruit.
The local residents attributed the uniqueness of the Guimaras mangoes to the soil on the island which they said is very rich in necessary nutrients – the main factor as to why the trees were able to produce fruits which are sweet and nutritious.
Experts have said that the soil which has a balanced mixture of sand, loam, and clay is very ideal for any kind of plant or tree.
Aside from mango, Guimaras also produces other exotic fruits like duhat, siniguelas, and even cashew.
On the other hand, Guimaras also hosts several beaches with fine white sand and pristine waters, which Teruel said is another potential of the island-province – an ideal and alternative tourism destination in the country.
Teruel, the 52-year-old but energetic civil engineer, is hoping that the next generation of mango farmers in Guimaras would also adopt the available technologies to maintain the image of the island-province as the producer of the “sweetest mangoes” in the country.
After all, he said that this is their island and hometown, and they are the ones that should protect the heritage that has been handed down from the many generations before them.