Dragon Fruit Info
PITAYA PRODUCTION AND MARKETING SCENARIO IN MYANMAR: CURRENT STATUS AND CHALLENGES
Management of Pests and Diseases、Others
Zaw Htun Myint
Pitaya cultivation in Myanmar is at its infancy stage but the domestic producers are trying to meet all local demand and the surplus to export. Unfortunately, there are some limitations to improve its yield potential. The major production constraints includes pre- harvest and post-harvest practices such as pest/disease problems, appropriate technologies that would improve yield, quality, and marketability of dragon fruit. Moreover, there is a need to develop strategies to promote dragon fruit in the international markets. Value chain of pitaya production should be started from the farm for export marketing. Myanmar's Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation has been trying to increase pitaya production by conducting research and development activities to develop appropriate production technologies and establishing large demonstration farms for disseminating developed technologies to local producers. With market oriented policy and foreign investment law in Myanmar, contract farming for pitaya production should be encouraged for further development of pitaya production and marketing.
Myanmar is geographically located between 9°58´ to 28°31´north and 9° 29´ to 10°10´ East. Myanmar’s population is increasing steadily at an annual growth rate of 1.8% with approximately 50 million in 2014. Seventy-five percent of its total population is living in rural areas.
sector is the backbone of the country’s economy. It contributes 23% of the GDP and 20% of total export
and employs 61.2% of the labor force. The main functions of the Department of Agriculture under the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MAI)
1) provision and production of high-quality seeds; 2) training and education; and 3) research and development.
Presently, there are about 11.87 million hectares of net sown area in Myanmar (Table 1). A variety of crops is grown in the sown area (Table 2). For the expansion of new agricultural land, the remaining 0.46 million hectares of fallow land and 5.28 million hectares of
can still be developed.
Table 1. Land utilization in Myanmar in 2013-2014
Table 2. Main crops cultivated in Myanmar
Source: Department of Agricultural Planning, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation
The tropical and temperate climate in Myanmar favors the year-round fruit production. Table 3 shows the fruit cultivation area in Myanmar. Although pitaya or dragon fruit (Hylocereus spp.) is a new crop in Myanmar, it has gained popularity among local growers and consumers in the past decade. Commercial cultivation is expanding because of its high market potential. And domestic producers are trying to meet all local demand and the surplus to export. However, there are still no reliable official data available on the nation-wide production of this crop (Table 3).
Table 3. Fruit cultivation area in Myanmar (hectare)
Source: Department of Agricultural Planning, MAI
DRAGON FRUIT CULTIVATION AND CONSUMPTION
According to the feasible study of dragon fruit production in selected area, there are 46 hectares in Naung Cho Thibaw in Shan state; 28 ha in Pyin Oo Lwin, Kyaukse, Meiktila;
12 ha in Oattwin, Yedashe, Bago, Pyay in Bago division; 4 ha in Aunglan, Pakokku; 4 ha in Naypyitaw; 6 ha in Taikyi and Hlegu. A total of 100 hectares have been cultivated with pitaya crop ranging from small to commercial scale.
Growers are using several species and hybrids with varying skin and pulp colors. But Hylocereus undatus (pitaya blanca or white-fleshed pitaya) and H. costaricensis (pitaya roja or red-fleshed pitaya or H. polyrhizus) are imported and widely grown in Myanmar.
In the dragon fruit growing area, various lengths of cuttings are taken from one year old mother plant. The cuttings are transplanted to the field after one month in the seed bed. Different spacing are used (9'x9'), (9'x12'), (8'x8'), (8'x10'), (8'x12'), (10'x12') in different growing regions. Strong poles are used so that they can withstand the stem weight. A trellis for individual plants is also constructed consisting of a pole of rocks or blocks and a structure at the top of the pole to support the plant.
The ripening season generally occurs from May-June to the end of October. Six to seven waves of fruit picking could be done in a year. All fruit harvests could be sold out in the local markets. During the off-season period, some dragon fruits are imported from abroad. Dragon fruit consumption is low in comparison with other fruits in Myanmar. This is due to some consumers do not like the taste, and higher prices comparing with other fruits. However, there is a high potential of increased consumption in view of the increasing trend of commercial production.
Pests and diseases
Rats and ants are main pests causing damage to fruit and plants. Several important diseases have also been observed in the growing areas including severe stem rot, stem canker, soft rot and anthracnose damage to plants and fruits.
In terms of fruit consumption, dragon fruits are not only eaten fresh but are also used to make jams, salads, ice-cream, juice and beverages. Moreover, introduction of dried fruit process is being planned by using non-marketable fruits. Most consumers in Myanmar believe dragon fruits have some health benefits that includes control of blood glucose level in diabetes, hypertension and others. They use different consumption styles such as tops in soups, dried flowers in tea, and vegetables in traditional meals.
PITAYA RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Research results from the Vegetables and Fruits Division of MAI’s Department of Agricultural Research show that 6-cm top cutting promoted flower initiation, and increased flower number, fruit number, and fruit weight. Moreover, fertilizer rate of 50 gm (once in 6 week) increased in fruit yield (number and weight) and gave the highest profit (Annual Reports 2009 and 2010).
Po (2011) found that more number of roots, shoots, and longer shoot produced using longer cutting (23 cm and 31 cm) than the shorter ones (15 cm) in both dry and wet seasons. And a growing substrate with a mixture of sand, organic manure and burnt rice husk resulted in maximum number of roots, shoots and longer shoot. Moreover, application of indole 3-butyric acid at 1000, 2000 and 3000 ppm on 15-cm cuttings grown in sand significantly produced more roots.
Apart from the above, R&D activities on dragon fruit are still in its infancy stage and have not been widely developed in Myanmar. As a profitable potential new crop, more efforts on area expansion and R&D activities will be performed.
RECORDS ON GROWTH CONDITION
It is located in the hilly region and has favorable environment conditions for pitaya production which, according to experts are marketable since it has pH 5.7, annual rainfall of 1,300-1,500 mm, and 90-100 raining days in a year and minimum temperature 0ºC. Cultivation system consists of two types; trellis or pile type and row planting. Plant and row spacing for row planting is 1'x10', 4300 plants per acre and plant and row spacing for pile planting is 7'x10', 622 plants per acre. All are well within the parameters of good growth condition and average yield was recorded at 8,000- 10,000 kg per acre. Still, this is still considered as home gardening state because of the limited technology and skilled workers. There is yet no export market available and all produce are sold out in the local market. Price is different depending on fruit size and color. Red-fleshed pitaya is higher price of 2500 Kyats-3000 Kyats (USD2.5-3) per kg than 2500 Kyats-3000 Kyats (USD2.5-3) per kg for white-fleshed pitaya. Pitaya cultivation and market are shown in Figures 1 and 2.
Figure 1. Pitaya cultivation in Shan State, a hilly region, Myanmar
Figure 2. Pitaya market in Thibaw, Shan State, Myanmar
It is located in the lower part of Myanmar and has 1,800-1,900 mm of annual rainfall, 120-135 raining days in a year and maximum temperature of 42ºC. Wine making by using non-marketable fruits are introduced as value-added products. Traditional medicine product by using fruit paste from wine making is still in its experimental stage. Ripe dragon fruits are marketed to locals and in the Mandalay area. The selling price is 2000-2500 Kyats (USD 2.0-2.5) per kg depending on fruit size.
It is located in central dry zone and has 1,400 mm of annual rainfall, 55 raining days in a year, minimum and maximum temperature of 19ºC and 38ºC. Dragon fruit cultivation in Popa region started in 2000. Cultivation system consists of two types; trellis or pile type and row planting. Plant and row spacing is 9'x9' or 9'x6', and 2-3 plants per pile and grown 540-880 plants per acre. Dragon fruits are marketed to Mandalay, Magwe and Naypyitaw regions.
CHALLENGES IN PITAYA PRODUCTION AND MARKETING
In Myanmar, there are several constraints limit achieving yield potential of dragon fruit. Poor production technologies lead to serious occurrences of pests and diseases. Disease-free and high yielding varieties are not available to the farmers. Therefore, some varieties have been attacked by pests and diseases after 2-3 years of planting and the plants are in deep need of replacement, especially with new varieties. Systematic quarantine procedure is urgently needed to check the imported varieties from abroad. Ripe fruits are accumulated in markets within 2-3 days although fruit production period is long. Absence of cold storage facilities could not control the market price. Value-added byproducts could not be produced. If the farmers know and use the off-season production technologies, they will earn year-round income and be more profitable. Cold storage facilities are needed to avoid the product accumulation at the market. During the off-season period, only rich people could buy the imported dragon fruits which are sold at high prices. With the current state of cultivation and production, which is often described to be in its gardening stage, government departments should cooperate in technology transfer and financial support and policy concern for import and export market availability.
In the past decade, pitaya crop has gained popularity among local growers and consumers in Myanmar. Commercial cultivation of dragon fruit has been extended except for very cool regions because the authorities are very much aware of the fruit’s high market potential. However, there is a need to develop strategies to promote dragon fruit in the international markets. Value chain of pitaya production should start from the farm for export marketing. Myanmar’s Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation has been trying to increase pitaya production by developing appropriate production technologies and establishing large demonstration farms, for example, in area near new capital Naypyitaw, and disseminating the technologies to local producers. With the Government’s new market-oriented policy and foreign investments law, contracted farming for pitaya production is possible. Detailed information on this is available in MAI’s Department of Agriculture.
Department of Agricultural Planning, 2015. Myanmar Agriculture in Brief 2014, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. Myanmar.
Department of Agricultural Planning, 2015. Agriculture at a Glance 2014, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, Myanmar.
Department of Agricultural Research, 2009. Annual Report (2008-2009) of Vegetables and Fruits Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (in Myanmar).
Department of Agricultural Research, 2010. Annual Report (2009-2010) of Vegetables and Fruits Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (in Myanmar).
Po, P.P.W. 2011. Effects of cutting length, substrate and indole 3-butyric acid (IBA) on propagation of dragon fruit plant (Hylocereus undatus) by cutting. M.Sc thesis, Department of Horticulture and Agricultural Biotechnology, Yezin Agri. Univ., Myanmar..
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