DA taps US biotech firm to address cecid fly problem

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MANILA, Philippines —The Department of Agriculture (DA) is tapping a biotechnology company in the US to help the country eliminate cecid fly infestation in local mango farms.

The DA said experts from Florida-based Sun & Earth Microbiology LLC would be invited to the country to help the government address cecid fly infestation that has been pestering domestic mango production and export.

“The DA is open to the idea of testing the products of Sun & Earth, whose chief executive officer Guillermo William Vazquez had earlier helped control fusarium wilt in bananas,” Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. said.

The DA explained that the US-based biotechnology firm uses biological microbes and agents in addressing and containing cecid fly problems.

The microbes, the DA added, have been successfully tested against cecid fly in Venezuela, Columbia and Vietnam.

In Palawan, the DA said cecid flies have affected some 100,000 hectares of mango orchard.

The DA added that cecid flies could destroy up to 80 percent of the mango fruits once infested.

The DA vowed to help Sun & Earth in securing clearances from the Food and Drug Administration for their products.

Under the government’s mango industry roadmap, the prevalence of cecid flies has been identified as the root cause of many problems in expanding domestic mango production.

The absence of long-term solutions and the lack of cost-efficient management to address the cecid fly problem worsened the situation of the mango industry, according to the roadmap.

The roadmap noted that about 70 percent of mango trees in Luzon alone “are not productive anymore.”

Based on the roadmap, cecid fly can slash the production of a mango tree by half, effectively reducing a farmer’s income by the same rate.

The country’s mango output in 2023 recovered to 786,043 metric tons, about 10 percent higher than the 712,553 MT recorded in 2022, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

PSA data showed that the country’s mango exports have been on a downward trend since 1998, falling to 10,207 MT in 2023 lower than the 10,716 MT recorded in 2022.

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