Davao durian shortage ahead of festival blamed on climate change

DAVAO CITY’s agriculture office is sourcing durian from neighboring provinces to augment supply for the expected influx of tourists in August as the Kadayawan returns as a face-to-face festival.

This year’s harvest of the city’s iconic fruit has so far been just about a fifth of the average 15,000 metric tons (MT) in the past three years.

Edgardo A. Haspe, head of the city agriculturist’s office, attributed the supply deficit to unusual weather patterns with the changing global climate, which affect the fruit-bearing cycle of trees.

“Right now, our climate is not cooperating. In previous years like in 2020, we had abundant harvest during Kadayawan but we did not have face-to-face celebrations due to the pandemic, but now we have a face-to-face celebration but sad to say we don’t have enough harvest,” Mr. Haspe said during the I-Speak media forum last week.

The Kadayawan — which used to be known as the Apo Duwaling Festival, for Mt. Apo, durian, and the waling-waling orchid (Vanda sanderiana) — is a celebration of the city’s natural bounty and timed for the traditional peak of the harvest season.

“We still have banana, mango but usually durian is brought to tourists in Davao City,” Mr. Haspe said.

Davao City Councilor Al Ryan S. Alejandre, spokesperson for the Kadayawan executive committee, said the committee has recommended setting up a dedicated space in one of the parks where fruit producers and vendors can directly sell fresh goods.

“It’s one of the things we boast about every Kadayawan. Good harvest and cheap fruit,” Mr. Alejandre said.

Durian consolidators from other localities in the Davao Region and parts of nearby Cotabato province are already preparing to bring in supply to Davao City.

Mr. Haspe said that the average annual harvest of durian in the city had been 12,000 MT. In the past three years, production was higher at 15,485 MT in 2019, over 17,000 MT in 2020, and 12,930 MT in 2021.

In the first half of this year, the harvest was only 3,000 MT.

There is still some fruit waiting to be picked in upland areas, but these are insufficient for the projected demand during the festival.

Durian farms occupied 3,389 hectares last year from 3,222 hectares in 2019, according to Mr. Haspe.

At the same time, processing activities have also expanded.

“Our durian processors here in the city are increasing… and they come to our office to ask where they can find supply,” he said. — Maya M. Padillo