Jocelyn E. Eusebio and Ma. Cecilia S. Alaban
Dubbed as “dragon pearl fruit”, “green dragon”, “dragon crystal”, and “strawberry pear”; the dragon fruit (Genus: Hylocereus) is native to Mexico and Northern South America. In the Philippines, it was introduced in the 16th century most probably through trading and exchange of goods by the Spaniards and the Filipinos. They are now found on six continents in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines and the Southeast Coast of China. Fruit growers in Asian countries may be ahead when it comes to cultivating dragon fruit but farmers in the Philippines are catching up in terms of technology and market development. The commercial production of dragon fruit started in the Ilocos region with a one hectare farm that blossomed into a multimillion-peso enterprise where its productivity was enhanced through the S and T intervention of DOST-PCAARRD Science and Technology Based- Farm (STBF), a technology transfer modality. The current area of production in the region is 200 hectares. The bright potential of dragon fruit spread so fast and there is already a total of 450 hectares planted to dragon fruit in the country. With the developed packaged of technology, the increased productivity is realized during the regular and off season with a technology of using artificial light. But despite of this, there are still concerns on diseases, postharvest losses during transport and limited supply of fresh fruits during off season. It is now a lucrative industry with only few key players are engaged to produce good quality fruits due to high investment cost on a per hectare basis compared to locally grown fruits. Because of its production and economic importance, this fruit is categorized under a high value crop and showed competitive advantage for the local fruit industry. Therefore, the focus of this paper is to develop a technology chain and identify critical factors that can be translated into an Industry Strategic Plan (ISP) for Dragon Fruit in the Philippines for the next five years to reduce the production cost, induce resistance to diseases, and produce quality fruits to command better price in the export market.