DA explores boosting Ilocos dragon fruit industry
The Ilocos Region’s dragon fruit industry may soon get a boost as the Department of Agriculture’s Philippine Rural Development Project (DA-PRDP) is few steps away from providing necessary interventions to develop the production, processing and marketing of the edible cactus fruit.
Region 1 has identified dragon fruit as one of its priority commodities under the PRDP, owing to the fruit’s promising economic viability.
During the presentation of the first draft of the dragon fruit value chain analysis (VCA) recently held in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, Edita Dacuycuy, a successful dragon fruit grower and processor said that the current production of dragon fruit meets only 10 percent of consumer demand. This means that there is a potential market for the commodity and the country has to produce more.
An approved VCA is required as basis for the crafting of a Provincial Commodity Investment Plan (PCIP), which identifies needed infrastructures and enterprises to develop a priority commodity.
Field studies conducted by the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) prove the profitability of dragon fruit, which sells at P150 to P180 per kilogram from January to March, and P75 to P80 per kilogram from July to September.
From 648 posts, with each usually supporting two cacti stems, MMSU harvested about 700 kilograms of fresh fruits from January to July last year, yielding about P70,000 in gross income.
While dragon cactus requires low maintenance and planting materials can be easily sourced from cuttings, there are also problems that require attention as reflected in the VCA.
Esmond Montañez, one of the major dragon fruit producer in Ilocos Norte, said that the dragon fruit industry may not fully develop if the problems identified in the VCA such as cactus diseases will not be addressed.
Among the interventions identified by growers and other stakeholders during the consultation activities conducted by the PRDP was the control of dragon cactus pests and diseases.
The stakeholders also seek for the faster processing and assistance in acquiring license in the distribution of processed dragon fruit products; establishment of postharvest facilities to help prolong shelf life; and conduct of research and development on dragon fruit as cosmetic product such as dragon fruit seeds in facial scrubs.
The dragon fruit VCA is expected to be approved in the first semester of this year. ### (Alladin S. Diega, NPCO InfoACE Unit with report from RPCO 1 InfoACE Unit)