Mangifera_rostrata_Blanco1.62 (1)

Illustration by Francisco Manuel Blanco [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mangoes are grown in most regions of the Philippines, and, after bananas and pineapples, rank third amongst fruit crops (based on export volume and product quality) valued most in local and international markets. Scientific name: Mangifera indica.

The Philippines produces 3 main varieties of mangoes, along with a handful of regionally popular cultivars. According to the Philippine Department of Agriculture, these are:

1. The Carabao, also known as the Manila mango, honey mango, and in various Philippine dialects, mampalam, pao, mangka and paho. Ataulfo mangoes (the sweet, yellow variety most North Americans are familiar with) are said to have descended from the Carabao.

2. Pico (describing fruit pointed like a bird’s beak), and

3. Kachamita (locally called Indian mangoes)

There are a number of topics about Philippine mangoes that I’d like to explore. These include:

• Learning more about day to day activities at the National Mango Research and Development Center on Guimaras Island, at the southwestern edge of central Visayas

• More about mango processing methods currently used in the Philippines, and how improvements therein (and to its global supply chain) could result in less frustration from folks like one Toronto-born friend who spent five consecutive weeks hounding our local Loblaws grocery manager to please give her a call when the “Sweet Memories of Cebu Philippine Brand” individually quick-frozen mango chunks arrived.

What other stories are there to tell about the Philippine mango? How much do we really know, and want to know, about a type of fruit treasured the world over – ubiquitous in their native lands, still the subject of study on how to best preserve and present the best-tasting mango at its peak of sweetness, unmatched by any other?

I think of these things when I think about Philippine Carabao mangoes – golden yellow orbs that give with a light squeeze, unblemished and with a scent that signals unmistakable allure.

Further reading/visiting:

• A long read for those inclined: a UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) research paper on “The Case of the Philippine Mango Industry”. Skimming through it provides a good overview of the types of challenges mango farmers face on a day to day basis in the Philippines, and what the future looks like for Philippine mangoes, armed with data from projects such as the farmers’ registry system. (As an editorial note: I really hope that data is true!)

• In a story that arcs, thankfully, to a good ending, “The Scientist, the Patent and the Mangoes” is an informative profile on Dr. Ramon Barba, a Philippine horticulturist whose work on improving mango trees’ yield resulted in up to triple an annual harvest. “We already had a unique practice in the Philippines of using smoke to bring on flowering,” says Dr. Barba, recalling the countryside practice of burning dried mango leaves under a tree to speed the flowering, asnd therefore fruit-bearing, process. That patent was a close call!

• The Mango Information Network. On their main page, it states The Mango Information Network is “a computer-based data bank that serves as a repository of knowledge/information about the commodity.” #OpenData for all!

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