THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will test products of a US biotechnology company to address the Cecid Fly infestation on the mango crop.

In a statement on Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel, Jr. said the potential supplier is Sun & Earth Microbiology LLC.

“The flies destroy up to 80% of mango fruits, with those affected showing brown scab-like spots. These pests usually start infesting mango trees shortly after flowering,” he said.

The Philippines exported 12,548 metric tons of mangoes in 2023, according to the Bureau of Plant Industry. The shipments were valued at P2.9 billion.

The company will use its product to combat the flies in Palawan, where 100,000 hectares planted to mango have been hit by the infestation.

“Sun & Earth plans to use biological microbes that had been successfully tested against the insects in Venezuela, Columbia and Vietnam,” the DA added.

Additionally, Mr. Laurel said he also plans to explore the use of Sun & Earth products against the fusarium wilt disease affecting the banana, abaca and coconut crops, which are “all major agricultural exports of the Philippines.”

Fusarium wilt is a soil-borne fungal disease that blocks the banana plant’s vascular system and deprives it of minerals, nutrients, and moisture. Affected plants turn yellow and die.

The TR4 strain of fusarium wilt was first detected in Davao City in 2009 and continues to threaten the Cavendish banana crop, which is the main variety of exportable banana.

Banana exports were estimated to decline by 2.9% to 2.21 million MT in 2023, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

The DA is also planning to tap the company’s products to deal with insects affecting rice.

It added that Agriculture Undersecretary Roger V. Navarro will lead discussions with the Food and Drug Administration to grant Sun & Earth the necessary clearances to deploy its products. — Adrian H. Halili