Dragon fruit production a big income earner – MMSU
Rudy A. Fernandez (The Philippine Star) - March 3, 2013 - 12:00am

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines – There’s big money in dragon fruit production.

In the first four years of a dragon fruit farm, one can realize an accrued net income of P2.5 million, according to the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Ilocos Norte.

Dr. Miriam Pascua, MMSU president, cited the following to The STAR:

In the second year when the dragon fruit plants begin to bear fruits, a plantation owner can harvest at least 10 tons valued at P650,000.  In the third year, 15 tons of dragon fruits valued at P1 million can be reaped.

“Accrued net income for four years is P2.5 million at farmgate price per kilogram of P80,” the MMSU president said.

MMSU is a five-campus university whose seat of administration is the main campus in Batac City situated 470 kilometers northwest of Manila.

Dr. Pascua said that from 1,111 to 1,666 planting materials of this vine-like species of cactus could be planted in a hectare.

Scientifically named Hydrocerous undatus, dragon fruit is fast becoming the “apple of the eye” of the Ilocos fruit industry.

About 1,000 ha have been envisioned to be planted in Ilocos Norte in line with the provincial government’s goal to make the country’s northwestern most province as the “dragon fruit capital of the Philippines.”

Jointly pursuing this goal are MMSU, Ilocos Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (ILARRDEC), Ilocos Provincial Agriculture Office, Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Unit-1 (DA-RFU 1), Departments of Education (DepEd) and Trade and Industry (DTI), DA-Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), DA-Cotton Development Administration (CODA), Kailokoan Guaneco Cooperative (KASACOOP), and local government units (LGUs).

To date, about 100 ha have been planted to dragon fruit, which is known in Ilocandia as saniata (meaning light and wealth), ILARRDEC regional technical director Leonardo Pascua also told The STAR.

ILARRDEC is one of the 14 government regional R&D consortia coordinated by the Los Baños-based Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD).

According to Pascua,  Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee R. Marcos has been spearheading the initiative to fully develop the province’s budding dragon fruit industry in response to the demands of the local and international markets.

Last July, Marcos led a group that visited Vietnam to study that country’s dragon fruit production system.

Last November, too, a delegation led by Agriculture undersecretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat participated in the Food and Hotel China 2012 and 10th International Exhibit on Food and related concerns held in Shanghai.

During the China fair, Pascua told The STAR, Chinese businessmen expressed interest in importing dragon fruit products from the Philippines.

MMSU and Cavite State University food technologists have already developed dragon fruit products such as jam, jelly, ice cream, macaroni, siomai, lumpiang shanghai, cupcake, empanadita, puree, wine, and soap.

Under the Ilocos Norte Dragon Fruit Program, demonstration plots in farmers’ fields, schools, and barangays have been set up.  Training and school-on-the-air radio programs, product development and marketing initiatives, and field consultations have been conducted.

Planting materials and technical support are provided to interested parties.

A technology-based farm on organic production of dragon fruit has also been set up on the farm of PCAARRD-ILARRDEC farmer-scientist Editha Dacuycuy in Burgos town through PCAARRD-ILARRDEC initiative.

AQUATIC AND NATURAL RESOURCES RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT BATAC CITY BERNADETTE ROMULO-PUYAT CAVITE STATE UNIVERSITY COTTON DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE-REGIONAL FIELD UNIT DRAGON FRUIT ILOCOS NORTE
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