There’s money in growing mangoes
Entrepreneur Evelyn A. Grace had just come from a mango festival in Laoag City, traveling all night, with hardly any sleep. Now she and her staff were in their booth in another mango festival, this time in Iba, capital town of Zambales. When interviewed, she was practically falling asleep.
Her situation underscored the challenges in scrambling for a living, in this case, growing and selling mangoes.
Farming was the business of the family of Grace, an undergraduate of BS Management from Columban College in Olongapo City, now based in Candelaria, Zambales, and originally from San Antonio, in the same province. The father was a farmer with six children—three boys and three girls, and young Evelyn would help their father in the fields.
When she got married, she and her husband Rudel became palay dealers (unhusked rice) and after a time, she suggested: Why not go into mangoes? So she attended a comprehensive program of Pccard (Philippine Council for Agriculture & Research and Development), and went into mango development.
In 1989, she applied for a P30,000 loan from the Philippine National Bank in Santa Cruz, Laguna, and started the mango business with an investment of P5,000. Growing mangoes is a tedious process (masalimuot), she shared: “You need patience. The price of chemicals is high, also the labor cost.”
Upon the suggestion of an employee from Cebu, Grace perfected the technique of dried mangoes, which turned out to be a sound decision.
“At first we were earning just to survive,” she recalls. “The funds were limited. We started selling to the resorts around Candelaria. What we could we would contract out, and then we brought the product to the exports market. It’s only now that we are feeling the benefits. The earnings went into the education of our two children.”
Mangoes have a cycle of 120 days, from September to the last week of February, grown from 23 trees.
Slowly the business grew.
On good days, as in the recent Zambales Mango Festival, tons are sold at P135 per kilo. “The profits are bigger in processing dried mangoes,” says Grace. More than 500 packs (P75 per pack) were sold during the festival.
So is the business thriving? “Kung hindi (were it not) thriving I would not have been able to educate my two children,” she says.
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