Mangoes in the Philippines
Mangoes are the national fruit of the Philippines and are grown by around two and a half million smallholder farmers on over 7 million mango trees. Compared to other crops grown in the Philippines like rice, corn, coconut and sugarcane, mangoes are a high value crop and provide a huge boost to the rural and national economy.
Mango farmer Bernard Alcantara farms over 30 hectares and harvests about 100 tons of mangoes a year. But the same hot and humid growing conditions that are perfect for mangoes, are also perfect for pests and diseases. Alcantara has to constantly be on the lookout for trouble from pests and disease or his mango crop could suffer. The biggest problem he faces is from the mango leaf hopper. “If we don’t take care of this insect, we will lose half of our crop. And if that happens, I do not earn anything,” he says.
Plant scientist Celia Medina has been researching mango pests since 1997 and is now a leading expert on the leaf hopper. She says that only through a variety of techniques will farmers be able to successfully and sustainably control the leaf hopper. “Farmers need to use a range of tools. They can encourage natural predators to attack the leaf hopper, they can use biological controls and they can do this in conjunction with insecticide use. If the farmers use all of the tools available, they will tackle the pest in a very sustainable way.”