An “Analysis of Fruit and Vegetable Value Chains in the Philippines” funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and conducted by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) revealed the postharvest losses along the value chains of onion, tomato, and mango. The results of the study focused on the three commodities were presented at a recent virtual national policy forum jointly organized by SEARCA and SyCip Gorres Velayo & Company (SGV & Co.).
Speaking at the forum, Usec. Evelyn Laviña, Department of Agriculture (DA) Undersecretary for High Value Crops and Rural Credit, said onion, tomato, and mango are staples in the Filipino cuisine and should thus 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%. Pangasinan-Manila route ranked second at 30.85% and Guimaras-Negros Occidental route ranked third at 19.02%. Notably, a Guimaras mango corporation that observes good agricultural practices (GAP) posted the lowest postharvest losses at 11% in shipping fruits to Manila.
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 PhP 1.595 M of postharvest losses when mango is 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 t and PhP 434 M, 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%. The estimated volume of postharvest losses for red onion reached 48,891 t and a value close to PhP 1.96 B. Postharvest losses for the cold-stored onion chain with the same route totaled 63.90%, with estimated volume and value lost at 69,333 t and nearly PhP 4.01 B, respectively.
On the other hand, freshly harvested tomato produced in Nueva Ecija and traded in Manila incurred postharvest loss of 10.94%. The volume of postharvest losses reached 1,930 t with a value of PhP 47 M. The total postharvest loss of freshly harvested tomato from the farm in Bukidnon, Northern Mindanao to the final market in Manila was much higher at 24.14% due to longer travel duration. This equates to an estimated volume of postharvest losses of 41,125 t and value close to PhP 180 M.
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, Principle Natural Resources and Agriculture Specialist at ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, said the study is relevant to the directions of both DA and ADB, which are agricultural diversification, industrialization, modernization, and commercialization.
In his message delivered by SEARCA Deputy Director Joselito G. Florendo, SEARCA Director Glenn B. Gregorio stressed that the pandemic enabled people to realize the significance of whole value chain process because food supply is not limited only to production.
Dr. Gregorio also pointed out 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 stressed that SEARCA values research projects focused on agricultural development as they contribute to SEARCA’s thrust of accelerating transformation through agricultural innovation (ATTAIN).