Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr.
Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia Jr.

[box type=”default” size=”large”] Cuisia lauds ruling, cites superior taste of PHL mangoes [/box]CHICAGO – More Philippine mangoes are coming to the United States, Elmer G. Cato, minister and consul for press and information of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., reported.

Previously, only mangoes produced in Guimaras Province, an island in Western Visayas, were allowed to be imported to the U.S. by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) because these are considered free of the pest called weevil (Sternochetus mangiferae (Fabricius). Weevil develops within mango seed and can be transported unnoticed from one locality to another.

Agriculture Attache Josyline Javelosa said the decision of USDA opens the door to the US market for mangoes from Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, Isabela, Batangas and Tarlac, all in Luzon; Cebu and Iloilo in the Visayas; and Zamboanga del Norte, North Cotabato and Davao del Sur in Mindanao and other parts of the archipelago.

Javelosa said that Palawan, which was declared by USDA to be free from seed weevil, could still export its mangoes to the US but the fruits have go through irradiation treatment.

Before the issuance of the USDA ruling, only mangoes produced in Guimaras, an island in the Visayas that has been recognized as weevil-free, can be exported to the US mainland. Mangoes grown in other parts of the Philippines suspected to have weevils, except Palawan, can be exported only to Guam and Hawaii.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. welcomed the USDA announcement, saying the ruling can help pave the way for more mango exports from the Philippines. 

“The decision to expand the list of allowable mango-producing areas to export to the US to almost the entire Philippines can be expected to result in more investments in the sector and at the same time encourage new entrants to allow domestic production to fully satisfy demand,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

He said the USDA ruling should also attract other countries looking into the Philippines as a source of mango supply. The USDA had declared that the country is largely weevil-free, and this came as a result of an extensive survey conducted in 79 provinces in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

“Other countries could also refer to this USDA recognition of the Philippines as weevil-free as a basis for adjusting their phytosanitary and importation requirements for our mangoes,” Cuisia added.

Ambassador Cuisia noted that the Philippine mango is known-worldwide for its superior taste, which should allow it to command a premium price.

Javelosa said that as a result of the USDA ruling, mangoes grown in areas free from both pulp and seed weevil can now be allowed for export to anywhere in the US and its territories after undergoing vapor-heat treatment or irradiation at 150gy, pre-clearance procedures and other phytosanitary requirements effective Oct. 1, 2014. The gray (Gy) is a unit of ionizing radiation dose.

Javelosa said that the USDA ruling also establishes a lower irradiation dose as a treatment for mango pulp weevil at 165gy from the generic dose of 300gy. She said that mango growers in Palawan will benefit from this ruling as it offers them a less costly treatment compared to irradiation at the higher dose.

According to the Bureau of Plant Industry, the major regular and lucrative markets for Philippine mangoes are Japan and South Korea, which accounted for 29 percent or 5,363 metric tons of the total Philippine mango export volume of 18,440 metric tons in 2012.

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Joseph is a former reporter of the Manila Bulletin, former president of the Rizal-Metro Manila Reporters Association and former president of the Chicago chapter of the National Press Club of the Philippines. A prolific reporter, Lariosa writes a column and news stories for the Filipino Star News and other Filipino community newspapers in the US as well as for GMA News and the Manila Bulletin.


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