By Emme Rose S. Santiagudo

MANGO season in Guimaras finds growers denied their usual markets this year because COVID-19 has restricted tourist movements and cancelled fiestas and trade fairs.

“(Mango farmers) asked for our help because they have a rich supply of mangoes but they find it difficult to sell due to the community quarantine imposed in other provinces,” Lenny S. Gonzaga, economist at the Provincial Economic Development Office (PEDO), said by phone last week.

The island province’s mango growers’ cooperative has 150 members.

Earlier this month, the provincial government banned the entry of tourists and non-essential persons following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Iloilo City, the main gateway to the province, has also been placed under enhanced community quarantine to limit the movement of people.

“It has really had a huge impact on our farmers. Before the crisis, Guimaras mangoes were easy to sell and farmers had sure buyers. Now, many of their transactions were cancelled due to the travel restrictions,” Ms. Gonzaga said.

The Manggahan Festival, a month-long celebration held every May, has been cancelled this year.

“During these times, there were supposed to schedule promotional activities to market the mangoes for the festival,” Ms. Gonzaga added.

To help farmers sell their harvest, the PEDO office used its Facebook page — Choose Guimaras Philippines — to advertise and accept orders with scheduled delivery dates to Iloilo City.

“They can message us directly. Usually, we deliver every two days or depending on the order,” Ms. Gonzaga said.

So far, about 1.6 tons of mangoes, which were intended for the cancelled National Food Fair organized by the Department of Trade and Industry on March 12–15, have been sold.

On Thursday last week, Ms. Gonzaga said PEDO was able to deliver 852 kilograms of mangoes.

The average price has fallen to about P130 per kilo from the usual P200.

“It’s the least that we can do to help our mango growers earn income,” she said.