FRUIT GROWERS in Mindanao and a Davao City logistics firm have signed an agreement to bring fresh produce to Metro Manila and other major urban areas starting September.

The Durian Industry Association of Davao City (DIADC) will provide 15 tons of various fruits daily that will be transported six times a week by John Gold Cargo Forwarder.

“Since there will be no tourists coming to the city during the durian peak season, we need to bring our products to major cities to minimize if not eliminate waste,” said DIADC President Emmanuel Belviz in a statement from the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Davao Region office.

Aside from durian, the deal also covers mangosteen, lanzones and marang.

The regional agriculture office’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division facilitated the logistics deal, which was signed on Aug. 12.

“The agreement is a big help to our farmers as we are assured of cargo space that will bring our harvest to major markets such as Metro Manila, Cebu, and Iloilo,” Mr. Belviz said.

John Gold President and Chief Executive Officer John T. Baricuatro said his company will provide aircraft space at a special rate of P35 per kilo.

The agreement is good for a month, but Mr. Baricuatro said extensions are a possibility.

“If tourists and consumers from other parts of the country cannot visit Davao City during this year’s harvest season, then we will bring the fruits to their localities,” DA-Davao Regional Executive Director Ricardo M. Oñate, Jr. said.

Separately, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), said it is preparing to bring its Tienda program to Manila.

Tienda was initiated last year to help Mindanao farmers bring fresh produce directly to market. The rolling store concept was also tapped for areas affected during last year’s earthquakes.

MinDA Tienda sa Manila will be expanded to include various processed food products and other manufactured goods from the south.

It is scheduled for Sept. 20-26 at the Mehan Garden in Manila.

MinDA Chair Emmanuel F. Piñol, in a statement last week, said Manila Mayor Francisco M. Domagoso has given a permit for the market.

Mr. Piñol said among the goods that will be showcased are fruits from the Davao Region and central Mindanao areas, seafood “from as far as Sulu and Tawi-Tawi,” organic rice, vegetables from Bukidnon’s IMTASULA Vegetable Complex, and indigenous woven products. — Marifi S. Jara