FRUIT PRODUCTION FOR THE ASEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY MARKET
SEVERAL STUDY TOURS were carried out by this author in 2015 and early 2016 in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam to identify opportunities in producing and marketing Philippine fruits in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).These study tours were complemented by the review of pertinent papers available on the Internet and other sources on marketing and the research and development (R&D) strategies of various members of the AEC for the expanded production and marketing of tropical fruits. The information gathered revealed that there are many opportunities that the AEC offers in the production and marketing of Philippine fruits. The identified opportunities maybe grouped thus. First, the Philippines has a comparative advantage, owing to its advanced technologies and unique agroclimatic conditions in the production of some fruits like Cavendish and Lakatan bananas, carabao mango,and pummeloas compared to Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. The Philippines is already a major exporter of the Cavendish banana but is only a minor exporter of carabao mango, and is not an exporter of Lakatan banana in AEC countries.
Second, the differences in the seasonality and the occurrence of secondary fruiting for some tropical fruits in the Philippines provides the opportunity for these fruit crops to be produced during the regular fruiting season in the Philippines for export as off-season fruits to other AEC countries as shown in Table 1.
The flowering and fruiting of tropical fruits in the Philippines is influenced by both the Northeast monsoon (October to March) and Southwest monsoon (April to September); in Malaysia and Indonesia, the flowering and fruiting of tropical fruits is influenced largely by the Southwest monsoon. Thailand, on the other hand, is influenced strongly by the Northeast monsoon and only marginally by the Southwest monsoon.
Third, some fruits may also be produced in the Philippines and exported as complements of similar fruits being produced and exported from Thailand,
Malaysia, and Vietnam.
Concerning the comparative advantage of the Philippines, today, the best world’s Cavendish bananas are produced in Mindanao due to its unique agro-climatic conditions coupled with good agricultural practices (GAP). After more than 20 years of research on ASEAN agriculture, this author is convinced that the same unique agro-climatic conditions in Mindanao, when coupled with GAP, can produce the world’s best Lakatan banana, pummelo, durian, longkong, mangosteen, and other tropical fruits for the AEC and other markets.
PRODUCTION AND MARKETING OF TROPICAL FRUITS IN THE AEC Over the last two decades, Thailand emerged as the largest producer and exporter of tropical fruits in the AEC and a major tropical fruit exporter worldwide, with exports valued at over US$ 1 billion annually. The country achieved this with massive government support for infrastructure, R&D for modernization and innovative GAP, market development and promotion plus the industry of its farmers. The top six fruit commodities exported from Thailand are durian, longan, longkong, mangosteen, rambutan, and mango. The six minor commodities exported include pummelo, lychee, tangerine, banana, and papaya.
Vietnam generates 50% of its export revenues from dragon fruit. It also exports banana,