The Carabao mango (“Mangifera indica”) is the most popular and most exported mango variety in the Philippines, bringing millions of US dollars in revenues to the country..
This variety is also the most mislabeled as some mango orchard owners pass off other mango varieties as Carabao.
In an effort to reduce mislabeling, scientists from the Visayas State University (VSU) have developed a diagnostic kit that can identify genuine Carabao mango types.
The kit incorporates a disposable dipstick and seems to work similarly to a pregnancy kit. The stick reacts to chemicals in mango leave extracts and if the extract is from the Carabao type, a dark purple line appears.
According to the VSU scientists, no other mangoes would have the same reaction.
Mango orchard and nursery owners would be able to ensure that their seedlings are the correct variety.
According to the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic, and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), fresh Carabao mango is exported to Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and the United States. Some are also exported to Canada and China as dried mangoes.
In 2011, the mango industry, of which the Carabao variety dominates, is worth nearly US$100 million.
Likewise, according to the Department of Agriculture, next to bananas and pineapples, mangoes are the third most important fruit crop in the Philippines based on export volume and value. The industry also hires over 2.5 million farmers.