The Philippines is struggling under the weight of a sweet but troublesome burden: a glut of 2m mangos.
The agriculture secretary, Emmanuel Piñol, said mango farmers had reported an “unusual increase” in the harvest, which they had attributed to El Niño, the climate phenomenon that has led to unusually hot, dry weather this year.
One the Philippine island of Luzon alone there is a surplus of about 2m kg of mangoes, according to Piñol, an oversupply that has led the price to drop from 58 pesos (88p) to as low as 25 pesos (38p) per kilogram.
Piñol stressed the urgency of dealing with the glut before the fruit went to waste and sent the price of mangos crashing further, hurting farmers. “We need to do something about this in the next two weeks,” he added.
In a bid to make sure that the excess mangos do not rot, the agriculture department has launched a marketing campaign, dubbed “Metro Mango”, to try to shift a million kilograms of the fruit in Metro Manila, with stalls selling mangos to be put up all around the capital throughout June. The fresh mangos will be sold at 25 pesos (38p) to 50 pesos (75p) a kilogram to entice buyers, who will get the low prices only if they buy in bulk.
The department has also launched cooking classes to teach people how to cook with mangos and will be holding a mango festival in mid-June in a bid to drum up excitement and demand for the fruit.
Some farmers in Luzon, where the oversupply is concentrated, have taken to giving away their mangos free, hanging bountiful bags of the fruit outside the gates of their farms.
Foreign interest in the cheap mangos is helping ease the burden. A Japanese fruit importer has pledged to purchase 100,000kg of the mangoes, though this still leaves 1.9m kg to shift. Piñol said it were also hoping to increase daily mango imports to Hong Kong and Dubai.