THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said a Russian company has placed an order of 2 metric tons of mangoes a week with growers in Guimaras.

“The Exim Pacific company… has initially placed an order of 2 metric tons of Guimaras mangoes every week as soon as the farmers are able to export,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol told reporters this week.

“It’s a major breakthrough for us in the Eastern European market. We’re hoping that this will be the beginning of our entry into the European market,” he added.

The mangoes will be shipped to Russia via Bangkok pending the development of more direct shipping links.

The DA has said that it is expecting mango imports to Russia to start as early as April. Foreign demand for mangoes has been building up in the past two years pending development of sufficient capacity in the Guimaras mango industry and other key growing areas like Zambales, Pangasinan, Cebu, Iloilo, the Davao Region, the Zamboanga Peninsula, and Cotabato.

The DA has said that it learned that mangoes are selling in Russia for about P1,000 each, mainly varieties imported from Thailand, India, and Pakistan.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), mango output in the fourth quarter of 2018 rose 0.5% year on year to 27,620 metric tons (MT). Zamboanga Peninsula accounted for 26% of total output, while Caraga and Northern Mindanao accounted for 24.1% and 15.4%, respectively.

The Carabao mango was the top variety, accounting for 22,560 MT or 81.7% of the total.

Aside from mangoes, the DA is also looking into exporting coconut oil, banana, and shrimps to Russia.

Meanwhile, Mr. Piñol said that the Philippines will be joining the Bel-Agro Festival in Belarus in June to further explore the Eastern European market. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang