Low durian yield, high fruit prices worry city guests

EVERY year, Davao City celebrates the Kadayawan Festival, a thanksgiving for the city's bountiful harvest, especially of its tropical fruits including durian, pomelo, mangosteen, lanzones, and rambutan.

But this year, less production and higher prices of these fruits in the market are dampening the enthusiasm of Dabawenyos and guests.

According to Durian Industry Council of Davao City chair Larry Miculob, the primary reason for the low production in the city is the abnormal rainfall and climate change. Recovery from last year's drought came in the form of excess rainfall even during the summer months which caused durian flowers to fall from the trees even before developing into mature fruits.

Last year, from the last week of August to November which is the durian season, Davao City was able to produce 180 metric tons of durian. This year, Miculob said they are expecting only around 120 metric tons for the same duration.

Even fruit vendors at Magsaysay Fruit Stand noticed the difference in production volume for this month as compared to August last year.

“We were not only informed about the decrease in production by our suppliers but we really saw it because we are visiting the plantations (in Calinan District and Toril). There are really less fruits,” said Jocelyn Reguso, a fruit vendor at Magsaysay Fruit Stand.

Reguso added this change in volume production is not only apparent in durian but also with pomelo, lanzones, rambutan, and mangosteen.

From the Philippine Statistics Authority, data shows that Davao Region’s durian production for 2016 was at 53,805.71 metric tons. Of this, 69 percent or 37,181.04, was produced in Davao City.

Miculob said prices for these fruits may also be higher as compared to last year. Currently, durian is at P120 to P200 per kilo. As the Kadayawan Festival comes to a close, Miculob said this would possibly decrease down to P60 to P100 per kilo although this would still be a lot higher than last year’s price which reached a low of P40 to P50 per kilo.

Miculob assured that there will still be fruits displayed during the Kadayawan Festival but not as many as last year. If the city’s fruit supply would still be not enough in time for the fiesta, he said fruits can be sourced out from neighboring provinces such as North Cotabato and Davao del Norte.

In preparation for the upcoming harvests, Miculob said they are currently maintaining sprays specifically against tree fungus growing on durian trees. He also said they have done massive pruning as the branches of the trees had grown heavier with the leaves, and not with fruits, as a result of the abnormal rain pattern.

Despite this current situation with the Kadayawan fruits, vendors are still positive that the festival will still be as celebrated as the previous years.
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