The Dragon Fruit Network (DFNet) traces its roots in 2014 when FFTC initiated a survey to collect information on tropical fruit production and marketing in Southeast Asia, and the specific details related to the prevailing situation and constraints on the production and distribution of planting materials. Based on the results of the survey, dragon fruit was identified as a very promising industry because of its growing market, its health benefits and exotic and tropical allure. There was however some constraints in the production and marketing of dragon fruit in the Asian Pacific region, the most notable of which was the dragon fruit canker disease which continues to wipe out thousands of hectares of dragon fruit in Southeast Asia.
Therefore, the following year, in 2015, FFTC, made an effort to do a follow up of the results of the tropical fruit survey and conducted a workshop on Improving Pitaya Production and Marketing.; This was held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan and was attended by 20 speakers from 11 countries. One of the recommendations of the said workshop was to involve stakeholders in the formation of a pitaya network.
FFTC followed this lead and the following year, another project entitled Regional Workshop on the Control of Dragon Fruit Diseases; was conducted in Khon Kaen, Thailand. This time, the workshop was attended by 17 speakers from 9 countries. During the discussion part of the workshop, there was another strong recommendation to form a regional network of dragon fruit experts who will focus on the pests and diseases of dragon fruit.
In 2017 and 2018, FFTC again took the lead and meetings were held to help create a network of people working in the management of pests and diseases of dragon fruit. An organizing committee composed of FFTC, the Mekong Institute, the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) and the New Zealand Plant and Food Research Institute (NZPRI) met in Taiwan to further discuss the formation of a research network. In the last meeting in March 2017, the committee thought that a network of people working on dragon fruit pests and diseases is too limiting. Therefore, they agreed to expand the scope of the network from dragon fruit pests and diseases to include the other important aspects of the entire dragon fruit industry.
That meeting resulted in another workshop entitled Dragon Fruit Initiation Workshop.; This was conducted on April 22-25, 2018 in Taipei, Taiwan. By this time, the workshop attendees, composed of 20 speakers from 7 countries most of whom are key researchers, technologists, leaders of research institutes, and government officers working in dragon fruit production and marketing, were really bent on the creation of a dragon fruit network. One of the strong recommendations in the said workshop was to form a task force to create sources of funds, write a draft of the network's articles of incorporation, vision, mission, objectives, etc. The steering committee also suggested that FFTC should take a lead in this area.
The DFNET website, therefore, is part of the ongoing efforts to form a network of dragon fruit experts and enthusiasts. It is a work in progress and with everyone's help, FFTC hopes to gather more people involved in the regions dragon fruit production and marketing. The Center hopes that through the creation of DFNET, more people will be able to contribute and participate in the building of a dynamic and promising dragon fruit industry.