Known as the “Queen Pineapple,” Formosa grows abundantly in Bicol. It has made Camarines Norte as one of the major pineapple exporters in the Philippines.
Formosa is also recognized as the Philippines’ sweetest pineapple with its sucrose content higher than varieties commonly grown in the country. Department of Agriculture – High Value Crops Development Program (DA-HVCDP) attests to this.
Pineapples have become a summer staple due to its refreshing and delightfully sweet flavor. Here are more facts about the Formosa Pineapple.
Unlike other varieties, Formosa has a distinct sweetness, subtle aroma, crisp flesh, and less fibrous pulp. The acidity of the pineapple is also a bit subdued.
The fruit is smaller compared to commonly grown variants and weighs at around one to two kilograms each.
Pineapple production is a consequence of Spanish migration and commerce to the Philippines.
In Bicol, pineapple was first grown in San Lorenzo Ruiz, Camarines Norte and was only considered as a backyard crop until locals realized its potential and expanded to larger plantations.
“It all starts with farmers looking for suitable sites that meet climatic and soil requirements. It can be intercropping or between coconut trees, or in an open field,” Basud Agricultural Technologist Elias Emata shares.
Then farmers would proceed with distancing, placing each seedling in a 60 x 50 cm area. Once seeds are planted, it goes through weed management, fertilizer application, and flower induction.
“It takes 16 to 18 months, almost two years to produce Formosa,” says Emata.
“Pinya Mo, Benta Mo”
Through their local government, a program was established where farmers would have access to direct marketing and travel to an outlet outside the province such as Manila.
“This is to help pineapple farmers because based on my experience, trading has been monopolized by businessmen. Some farmers don’t have an idea on the cost of Formosa Pineapple outside Camarines Norte,” shares Emata.
Within the province, Formosa is priced at around Php8 to Php10. When transported, the reselling price becomes Php25 to Php30.
This program eliminates middlemen and enhances the awareness and skills of farmers in pineapple trading. “It’s our way of helping the farmers.”
Farmers will directly transact with the buyers in the metro and will be given logistic support such as trucks, gas, and drivers.
An organization of cooperatives and farmer associations vitalized the processing of pineapple by-products.
“When farmers have extra produce, they can bring it to our cooperative so we can still use it and it won’t be put to waste,” says Emata.
Some Formosa by-products are wine, vinegar, juice drink, puree, jams, pineapple tart, pie, dried pineapple, etc.
Major cooperatives in Camarines Norte include Labo Progressive Multipurpose Cooperative, San Lorenzo Women and Families Association, and Caayunan Multipurpose Cooperative.
“There are lots of advantages and products we can produce from a single Formosa,” says Emata. “Even for clothing. We use pineapple fiber for Barong, Kimono, and more.”
To honor Formosa and the hardworking Bicolano farmers who dedicate their time and expertise to grow them, Camarines Norte annually holds Pinyasan Festival every 3rd to 4th week of June.
It definitely takes an entire village, or region to produce a fruit that is internationally recognized as one of the sweetest.
While Formosa is distinct for its taste, the grit of local farmers behind each pineapple strengthens the reason as to why it’s a must-try.
“I’m proud that Camarines Norte gets to be known for Formosa, that visitors would be curious to try once they are here,” says Emata.
Outsource the Planning
For a seamless trip, you may leave the planning to DOT’s accredited tour operators in Bicol. Click on this link for a comprehensive list of agencies.
Explore Camarines Norte responsibly by making sure that you comply with the province’s health and safety protocols, such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.
Ensure that you have acquired travel authority at https://s-pass.ph/ prior trip. Bring a copy or screenshot of this along with your vaccination card upon arrival.
For the latest travel information about Camarines Norte, you may visit their official website or Facebook page. You may also review updated safety protocols and requirements on Philippine destinations at www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel