The mango pulp weevil (MPW) infestation that continues to plague Palawan has made its way to the northern provincial town of Roxas.
Jane Buenaobra, officer-in-charge of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA), said its presence in Barangay Magara, Roxas was detected in September during a meeting of municipal agriculturist officials (MAOs).
“Nasa Roxas na. Considering na ang higpit-higpit supposedly ng enforcement sa checkpoint, nasa Roxas na. Nakapasok na at ‘yon ‘yong problema ngayon na immediate,” Buenaobra said.
She said the checkpoint in the border between Puerto Princesa City and Roxas failed to prevent the entry of MPW-infected mangoes that might affect mango farms in other towns.
The failure, she explained, is partly because the persons who have been assigned to man the border are not deputized and are, in fact, “only contractual employees.”
The MPW crossing the border is a sad development in Palawan’s decades’ fight to save its mango industry, Buenaobra stated.
“Ipaubaya na natin kay Guimaras, kay Cebu… ultimo si Romblon na napakaliit may fresh mangoes dahil wala silang problema sa MPW,” she said.
Buenaobra said what needs to happen now is for Palawan to invest in the processing of mango fruits into candies, jams, juice extracts, purees, dried fruits, ingredients to chocolate products, and other derivatives.
She stated that since it was discovered in 1987, the trading of its fruits has been banned outside the province, which seriously affects the profits of mango growers.
She added further that in 2019, the Palawan government will focus on processing since it appears to be the only way available to still benefit from the mango harvests.
“Kasi ‘yong selling ng fresh mangoes, I don’t think kaya pa nating i-survive. Kaya tayo, palakasin na lang natin ang ating processing,” which she said could help mango farmers who are no longer getting profits from selling fresh mango fruits.
At the Provincial Board (PB) on Tuesday, board member Albert Rama filed a measure seeking Department of Agriculture (DA) Sec. Emmanuel Piñol’ help for an “expeditious MPW eradication program” which could save the province’s fresh mangoes.
In an interview Thursday, he said the DA has to act to help Palawan now before the MPW spreads all over the province and cause the loss of the mango farmers’ means of livelihood.
Rama said Palawan has 3,263 hectares of mango plantations with 326,300 trees that produce an estimated 22,788 metric tons of fruits.
“Kinakailangan na talaga natin ang tulong ng DA para ma-eradicate na itong mango pulp weevil dahil baka wala ng pag-asa na mailabas pa ang prutas sa Palawan para maibenta. Ngayon ay nakarating na sa Roxas, kaya problema talaga ‘yan. Kawawa ang ating mga mango growers, ang tagal na nitong problema,” Rama said.
Rama said one strategy that can help eradicate MPW in municipalities where there are plantations is “synchronized defruiting and pruning of leaves.”
The method is about baring the mango trees of fruits and leaves that can be host to the mango pulp weevil.
Rama said if the MPW covers the whole of northern Palawan, the province will most likely declare a “state of calamity” for funds to be allocated.
“Kung magagawa sana ay tanggalin ang mga dahon ng sabay-sabay, pati iyong fruits. Baka puwedeng solusyon ‘yon. We will also ask sa DA if there are studies about alternate host na baka doon siya puwedeng mag-survive hindi sa mangga natin,” he said.
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