by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol

Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) is introducing the Environmental Farming Program which will promote the planting of fruit trees, especially the high-value Hass Avocado, in the deforested highlands of Mindanao.

With government-initiated reforestation programs hardly succeeding, I thought of combining my advocacy on environmental protection with the effort to increase productivity and address rural poverty.

I had earlier introduced to officials of Dole Philippines, a Japanese-owned multinational agricultural company, the idea of expanding their Hass Avocado production areas through a growership program.

Under the initial concept which I presented to Dole Philippines officers who visited my farm in Kidapawan City two months ago, I asked Dole Philippines to provide technical assistance and Hass Avocado planting materials to farmer-growers who will be asked to sign a marketing agreement with the company.

MinDA, on the other hand, will seek the support of its financing partner, the Development Bank of the Philippines, to provide loan packages to Hass Avocado Growers.

Dole Philippines, which is now exporting to China, started the Hass Avocado Program in Mindanao several years ago from its farms in Calinan, Davao City, South Cotabato and Bukidnon.

It was under the term of President Rody Duterte when the company was able to gain access to the China market with the help of the Department of Agriculture when I was Secretary. It has also pending requests to export Hass to Japan and South Korea.

Hass is the most popular Avocado variety mainly because of its taste and long shelf life, making it a potential major dollar earner for Mindanao.

Ideally grown at elevations of at least 1,000-meters above sea level, Hass Avocado would be a perfect crop for the high elevation logged over areas in Bukidnon, Lanao del Sur, Misamis Oriental and Davao Del Norte.

Yesterday, I received a report that officials of Dole Philippines liked the concept of a growership.

Dole Philippines, formerly an American corporation, has been acquired by Japan’s Itucho Corporation.

It is now the only exporter of Hass Avocado from the Philippines to China.

The planting of Hass Avocado in the deforested highlands fits into the Green Mindanao Project of MinDA which seeks to encourage fruit tree or tree farming in logged-over areas of Mindanao.

The high demand and good price of Hass Avocado in the export market could also boost the income of Filipino farmers and trigger Mindanao’s economic recovery.

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