Mango growers to start all over again

LAOAG CITY — Super typhoon “Lawin” (international name: Haima) barreled through Ilocos region last week and among those hit hardest by strong winds are the sweet mangoes supposedly due for harvest next month or just in time for the yuletide season.

Ricardo Tolentino, popularly known as Ilocos Norte’s mango king reported that the mango growers association here were totally devastated seeing their mango trees swayed by strong winds, fallen branches and some were even uprooted at the height of the typhoon.

A state of calamity has been declared in Ilocos Norte due to losses estimated to have reached over a billion pesos in agriculture and infrastructure.

The Ilocos region which includes the provinces of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union and Pangasinan is one of the country’s major exporter of quality mangoes to Hongkong, Japan and other neighboring Southeast Asian nations.

According to Tolentino, the estimated damages could account to more than 100 million pesos as most of the growers heavily invested this year on power spray and in rehabilitation of their mango fruit bearing trees.

As a high value commercial crop in the province, the provincial government continue to provide funding support in the form of fertilizer subsidy and training for mango growers to rehabilitate mango fruit plantations here.

Since 2012, mango farms have been suffering from low yield due to erratic weather patters.

Because of this, mango growers were discouraged to spray their trees anymore because of the low fruit production the previous years.

Trained growers claim mango spraying using chemicals such as potassium nitrate has become effective in inducing the trees to produce more flowers uniformly in contrast to the traditional “smoking” technique.