ACIAR mango crop management in the Philippines and Australia impacts smallholder farmers

The successful ACIAR project ‘R&D of integrated crop management for mango production in the southern Philippines and Australia (HORT/2012/019)’ came to an end at the final project workshop held at the Waterfront Hotel in Davao, Philippines on the 24-25 May 2018. Collaborators from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Queensland (DAF), University of Southern Mindanao, University of the Philippines Los Baños, University of Southerneastern Philippines, Southern Philippines Agribusiness, Marine and Aquatic School of Technology and the Provincial Agriculturists Offices of Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur gathered together to review and compile the key results, impacts, conclusions and recommendations from this four-year project. The project’s key goal was the development and improvement of practices for integrated pest and disease management, nutrition, pruning and canopy management to improve mango grower profitability. 

Davao team photo

Davao team photo

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) Project Extension Leader, Dr Geoff Dickinson said the communication of mango best practices to growers was achieved through the formation of numerous ‘farmer clusters’ in the Davao del Norte and Davo del Sur regions in the southern island of Mindanao. 

“More than 185 mango growers attended these season-long training workshops, conducted three-four times throughout the mango season. 

“Additional extension training was provided to 21 of these growers to act as ‘cluster leaders’, as well as 50 Provincial Agriculture Extension Officers (including from other Mindanao provinces) to help facilitate future mango BMP training to other growers. 

“These workshops were organised and facilitated by Dr Ana Notarte and Ms Julia Sagolili from the Provincial Agriculturists Offices in both regions and have resulted in immediate practice improvements in mango crop management” he said. 

A major change in grower understanding has been the recognition that significant canopy pruning is essential to maintain high productivity in younger orchards or can be used to reinvigorate old, unproductive orchards. Improvements in the understanding of pest biology, particularly for cecid fly and thrips, has led to major changes in pest management and pesticide application for Philippine growers. In this project cecid fly parasitoid wasps have been found and have been identified by the Museum of Natural History in London. These findings have implications for the Australian mango industry, as the same species of cecid fly has invaded the Torres Straight and Cape York and is of imminent threat to the main Queensland mango production areas, particularly Far North Queensland. These wasps may be of importance for future biocontrol strategies in Australia. 

The project results have also proven that thrips are resistant to the conventional broad-spectrum insecticides that are currently registered and being used, and are exacerbating the pest problems. 

Philippines mango thrips are also the same species that attack mango and other crops (e.g. bananas and vegetables) in Australia. The findings of this research in the Philippines has shown the importance of thrips management in weeds and alternative crops for controlling thrips in mangoes which could have implications for managing thrips here in Australia.

DAF Project Leader, Dr Ian Newton said that the project partnership between key mango RD&E organisations from the Philippines and Australia had faced many challenges over the past four years.

“I believe we have now achieved key outcomes and recommendations that can significantly improve the livelihoods of the 6000 smallholder mango growers in the southern Philippines,” he said. 

Submitted by Geoff Dickinson Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.