By Julmunir I. Jannaral
The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) advocacy to protect environment while increasing productivity and reducing poverty will take a giant step next week with the staging of a virtual convention to build the Mindanao Abuyog Sweet Jackfruit and Hass Avocado industries.
Secretary Manny Pinol of MinDA said the Virtual Convention set on May 8, Saturday, will involve Plant Propagators, Farmers, Buyers, Funders and relevant agencies of government, including the National Commission on the Indigenous People (NCIP) which supervises wide Ancestral Domain Areas.
MinDA Asst. Secretary Cherrylyn Santos Akbar, former mayor of Isabela City, Basilan, will head the team which will establish the Mindanao Avocado and Jackfruit Organizing Council.
Among the identified participants are:
1. Mindanao Development Authority – Lead Convenor;
2. Department of Agriculture, Mindanao Regional Offices;
3. Bureau of Plant Industry, Mindanao Regional Offices;
4. Department of Trade and Industry, Mindanao Regional Offices;
5. Department of Science and Technology, Mindanao Regional Offices;
6. National Commission on the Indigenous People;
7. Department of Environment and Natural Resources;
8. Government Financing Institutions (Land Bank & Development Bank of the Philippines; Agricultural Credit Policy Council through Credit Cooperatives);
9. Cooperative Development Authority (CDA);
10. Registered Plant Propagators and Plant Nursery Operators;
11. Registered Farmers’ Cooperatives;
12. Prospective Consolidators and Buyers (i.e. Dole Philippines, Avante Agri Products, Dizon Farms, Eng Seng, Ultramart Supermarket, etc.)
According to Secretary Pinol, the Virtual Convention aims to organize the stakeholders of both the Abuyog Jackfruit and Hass Avocado Industries into a cohesive group which would set production targets based on the absorptive capacity of the market.
They will be assisted by concerned government agencies in attaining the target by providing technical and funding support, including post-harvest facilities.
The prospective consolidators and buyers will provide assurance of market absorption while the Government Financing Institutions (GFIs) will provide funding for the program with loan maturity based on the gestation period of both products.
This program supports the Green Mindanao Project which promotes the planting of trees in the deforested and denuded highlands of Mindanao while boosting the economic growth of the region.
Prior to the May 8 Virtual Convention, a preliminary conference involving government agencies, GFIs and prospective buyers will be held.
Jackfruit and Avocado Industries
Let’s build an industry! This is the battle cry of MinDA Secretary Pinol as he referred to the raising of 100 Jackfruit and 50,000 Hass Avocado seedlings in 21 target seedlings production sites.
This year, Braveheart Farms and Nursery owned by the family of Pinol based in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato, will produce 100,000 Abuyog Sweet Jackfruit and 50,000 Hass Avocado seedlings.
According to Secretary Pinol, “this will be my personal contribution and support to the Green Mindanao Project of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) which I designed shortly after I left the Department of Agriculture in 2019.”
He emphasized that the Green Mindanao Project aims to introduce high value fruit trees farming in the deforested and denuded highlands of Mindanao.
It is the implementation of the proverbial “hitting two targets with one bullet” as the program aims to protect the environment while at the same time boost agricultural production, he pointed out.
“I have chosen two varieties of fruit trees – the DA-EVIARC-developed Abuyog Sweet Jackfruit and the Hass Avocado – because of the huge market demand and adaptability to the cool climate in high elevation,” he also said.
Pinol added that “what stands in the way of this program is the availability of planting materials owing mainly to very limited grafting materials and the ugly habit of many plant propagators of keeping their scions to themselves.”
He said one of the major plant propagators of Mindanao, Dr. Pablito Pamplona, came to his Braveheart Farm and Nursery to ask if he could buy scions of the Abuyog Sweet Jackfruit which he grows.
“I told Dr. Pamplona that I am sharing the scions for free adding that Mindanao will not be able to develop a viable Abuyog Sweet Jackfruit industry if the farmers only plant a few trees,” he revealed.
“To develop a viable Jackfruit Industry, Mindanao must produce volume and fill the demand of the local market which imports P500-M worth of Jackfruit from Vietnam and Thailand every year,” the MinDA secretary advised.
He said the production of Hass Avocado seedlings is also hampered by the lack of grafting materials prompting some nursery operators to import mother trees from California.
In Mindanao, Dole Philippines started planting Hass Avocados many years ago and the company is now exporting to China.
“I have gained access to four mother trees planted by Dole Philippines in Talakag, Bukidnon allowing us to graft about 4,000 seedlings,” he said.
For this year, Pinol said, “I will go full blast in my production of both Abuyog Sweet and Hass Avocado seedlings and I will ask the region’s nursery operators to unite and set seedlings production targets.”
Pinol who was a former mayor of Mlang municipality and governor of North Cotabato said “I will convince Mindanao local government units (LGUs) to allocate funds for the procurement of seedlings which they could distribute to their farmers under a “Plant-Now-Pay-Later” program.”
Government Financing Institutions will also be asked to create a loaning window for high value fruit trees production.
Alone, we would be selling fruits in makeshift shacks along the highway but together, Mindanao’s fruit farmers could build a competitive Jackfruit and Hass Avocado industry which could lift up rural families from poverty. JIJ
PHOTO CAPTION: HASS AVOCADO: Secretary Manny Pinol shows his Hass Avocado being planted at his privately owned farm the Braveheart Farm and Nursery at Kidapawan City, North Cotabato. (Photo by Mayette Tudlas, MinDA OC)