May 10-11, 2021— Bauang, La Union.
Believe it or not, grapes can be grown in the Philippines. Based on the Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database, the Philippines has a total grape area of 389 hectares with a total production of 214 tons (FAOSTAT, 2019). Even with this area and volume of production, the Philippines still imports table grapes. In 2019 alone, the Philippines imported a quantity of 46,456 tons (FAOSTAT, 2019).
Armed with the objective of ensuring fair trade among regulated commodities imported in the Philippines, and guided by its commitment to adopt 100% of relevant ASEAN and Codex standards as PNS to contribute in making the agri-fishery globally competitive, the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS) undertook the Adoption of Codex Standard for Table Grapes (CODEX STAN 255:2007) as Philippine National Standard (PNS). The proposed PNS for Table Grapes will apply to commercial varieties that are to be supplied fresh to consumers after preparation and packaging. The standard, however, excludes grapes that are meant for processing.
As part of the standards development process, a field data gathering was conducted on May 10-11, 2021 in the grape farms at Region I - La Union to validate farmers practices and collect samples of table grapes to determine the total soluble solids and titratable acidity. The data collected will be used to support the adoption of the Codex standard and as basis for the specification of Philippine table grapes. The activity was participated by the BAFS project managers along with the Technical Working Group (TWG) members from DA- Food Development Center (FDC) and Lomboy farms. The group visited various grape farms with the assistance of DA- Ilocos Region and the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Bauang.
Table grapes are type of grapes that are intended for fresh consumption, unlike grapes that are grown for wine, juice, or raisin production. Table grape cultivation, particularly red cardinal grape, originally grown in California, was introduced in the country during the 1970s in the province of La Union by Mr. Avelino Lomboy, also known as the King of Philippine Grapes. To date, the red cardinal is the most common variety cultivated by most grape-growers in the Ilocos Region. This type of grape is characterized as a red-skinned and round to elongated variety. The said grapes can be harvested within 10 to 12 months after planting. Harvesting is done three times a year during May, September, and December. The grapes are grown in trellises, and pruning plays a vital part in encouraging flowering and fruiting. Other practices like proper fertilization, pest control, and irrigation for a well-adapted to light soil also form part of good vineyard management.
With the adoption of the Codex Standard for Table Grapes and ensuring its applicability to the Philippines, the Bureau hopes that through this endeavor the local farmers will be able to dominate the export market in the near future.###
Figure 1. Red Cardinal variety of table grapes taken at Bauang, La Union
Figure 2. Collection of samples of table grapes at Ancheta Farm Bauang, La Union