The Philippine ‘Carabao’ mango, our national fruit otherwise known as the Philippine Super Mango is one of the most loved varieties in the world for its sweetness, aroma, and exotic taste.

The ‘Carabao’ mango is the third most important fruit crop next to banana and pineapple in terms of export volume and value according to the Department of Agriculture High Value Crops Development Program.

Dr. Edgardo E. Tulin said that there is a problem with the authentication of Philippine ‘Carabao’ mango due to mislabeling in many nurseries and orchards in the country. Dr. Tulin is from the Visayas State University and the project leader in the study on “Genetic Markers and Immuno-based Identification of Philippine ‘Carabao’ Mango.     

“We cannot be sure if the mango seedlings they have (in nurseries) are ‘Carabao’ mango. It takes years to bear fruit, so we really need to be sure before we plant it. Otherwise, we will wait for five years; then, it’s useless if we find out later that it’s not ‘Carabao’ mango after all,” says Dr. Tulin.

The study aims to develop a “dipstick” kit which when dipped into the mango leaf extract will react by showing a distinctive line with a dark purple color indicative of a positive (‘Carabao’ mango) reaction. Otherwise, no line and no color (other mango varieties) will appear on the membrane of the stick.

The dipstick is a disposable product with an estimated cost of less than P100. The target markets of the said dipstick are nurseries, plantations, or the Bureau of Plant Industry which can use it for accreditation of nurseries and other regulatory purposes.

According to Dr. Tulin, with the completion of the study, the mango growers can be guaranteed that the planting materials being sold in the nurseries are true-to-type ‘Carabao’ mango. Likewise, the nurseries can confidently propagate genuine ‘Carabao’ mango seedlings.

However, Dr. Tulin noted that there is no protein sequencing facility yet in the country, which could build a gap for this kind of initiative. Hence, he hopes to have a protein sequencing facility in the Visayas to further their research as ‘Carabao’ mango is the country’s “gold mine”.

This status of the project was presented during the Science and Technology Forum on Agri-Aqua Genomics held on November 26 at the ICTO Audio-Visual Room in Diliman, Quezon City in celebration of the 10th National Biotechnology Week. The forum was organized by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), the funding agency of the project. (PSciJourn MegaManila)