Significant postharvest losses of mango, onion and tomato were bared in a recent study funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Dubbed, "Analysis of Fruit and Vegetable Value Chains in the Philippines," the study conducted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) revealed the postharvest losses along the value chains of the three commodities.
The results of the study were presented at a recent virtual national policy forum jointly organized by SEARCA and SyCip Gorres Velayo and Company (SGV and Co.), said a SEARCA news release.
Agriculture Undersecretary Evelyn Laviña for High Value Crops and Rural Credit, told the forum that onion, tomato and mango are staples in the Filipino cuisine and should be given significant attention and funding to improve postharvest handling efficiency.
Dr. Marlo Rankin, agricultural value chain and market expert, and Dr. Flordeliza Lantican, agricultural value chain and market specialist, presented the study results, which focused on the postharvest losses quantified along the value chain of the three commodities.
The study revealed that mango produced in Iloilo and traded in Manila showed the highest postharvest losses at 33.89 percent.
The Pangasinan-Manila route ranked second at 30.85 percent, and the Guimaras-Negros Occidental route ranked third at 19.02 percent.
It was noted that a Guimaras mango corporation that observes good agricultural practices posted the lowest postharvest losses at 11 percent in shipping fruits to Manila.
It was explained that postharvest losses in terms of volume and value indicate a significant reduction in marketable supply and income of key actors in the mango supply chain.
Pangasinan registered the highest volume at 31,581 tons and value at P1.595 million of postharvest losses in mango traded in Manila because it has higher mango production than other provinces.
Iloilo, with the same destination, came second with volume and value of postharvest losses at 8,682 tons and P434 million, respectively.
Meanwhile, the total postharvest loss of freshly harvested onions from the farm in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija, to the final market in Divisoria, Manila, was 45.06 percent.
The estimated volume of postharvest losses for red onion reached 48,891 tons and a value close to P1.96 billion.
For the cold-stored onion chain with the same route postharvest losses totaled 63.90 percent, with estimated volume and value lost at 69,333 tons and nearly P4.01 billion, respectively.
At the same time, freshly harvested tomato produced in Nueva Ecija and traded in Manila incurred postharvest loss of 10.94 percent. The volume of losses reached 1,930 tons, valued at P47 million.
On the freshly harvested tomato from the farm in Bukidnon, Northern Mindanao, and shipped to Manila, the total postharvest loss was much higher at 24.14 percent due to longer travel duration.
The estimated volume of losses were 41,125 tons and valued close to P180 million.
Key recommendations in reducing postharvest losses for the three commodities include investing in cold storage and packing facilities, providing delivery vehicles to facilitate transport of goods, developing online trading or digital marketing in partnership with the private sector, increasing access to credit and insurance, and strengthening extension services at the grassroots level.
Dr. Takeshi Ueda, principal natural resources and agriculture specialist at ADB Southeast Asia Department, said the study is relevant to the directions of both the Philippines' Department of Agriculture and ADB in agricultural diversification, industrialization, modernization, and commercialization.
In his message delivered by SEARCA Deputy Director Joselito G. Florendo, SEARCA Director Glenn B. Gregorio pointed out that the pandemic enabled people to realize the significance of whole value chain process because food supply is not limited only to production.
Gregorio also explained that onion, tomato, mango and other high-value crops should be upscaled, and the need to invest in them to ensure that the Philippines will have "a future-proof agriculture sector."
He noted that SEARCA values research projects focused on agricultural development as they contribute to its thrust of accelerating transformation through agricultural innovation.