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Savoring the dragon fruit tale of Guimaras

Prominent for its luscious, sweet-tasting mangoes and touristy scenes, Guimaras Island is now making waves with its yet another emerging agricultural product – the lowly dragon fruit.

Oval-shaped, vibrantly-colored dragon fruits grow in tropical and subtropical countries where the heat of the sun and just a right amount of water collide. Although these species belong to the cactus family or Cactaceae, surprisingly, dragon fruits earned its moniker as the strawberry pear. And just like any other agri harvests, proper planting and growing techniques are a must for dragon fruits to bear products that are surely a pleasure to the palate and the pocket.

In Guimaras, dragon fruit plantations occupy some 28 vast hectares of land. Local farmers master the tedious process of propagating, pruning, and maintaining it. The hard labor and tender loving care of these dragon fruits guarantee value-added yields.

Selling dragon fruits in a trade fair is one of the highlights of the Dragon Fruit Festival in Guimaras. (Guimaras PIO)

As a support to the island’s promising agri industry, the Department of Agriculture (DA) 6  has extended its helping hand in providing a financial grant of P10 million through its High Value Crops Development Program. This holistic approach promotes the production, processing, marketing and distribution of high value crops.

DA 6 Agri-Business and Marketing Assistance Division Chief Maria Teresa Solis shared this good news last August 10, 2023, in a gathering of dragon fruit farmers and stakeholders dubbed as the International Business Forum on Dragon Fruit Farming.

The financial aid will be utilized for fertilizer, planting materials, crates and trainings for dragon fruit farmers in the island.

Solis reiterated the importance of knowing the solid market niche to ensure specific customers who will buy these dragon fruits.

"Usually ma-produce kita and then later on ta lang pangitaon ang market kay gali wala man market. But dragon fruit is very promising because of its nutrients," Solis conveyed.

Local dragon fruit farmers were likewise elated with the help of DA.

Mr. Bonifacio Tespoer, president of Guimaras Dragon Fruit Growers Association, could barely contain his joy upon learning about the financial assistance. He also hoped that his wish list on the purchase of a cold storage facility will soon become a reality as this machine is necessary at the moment.

Fresh dragon fruits are sure worth a try!
The Dragon Fruit Kitchen demo features an appetizing dessert dubbed as Dragon Fruit Acai. (Photo by: Guimaras PIO)

For his part, provincial agriculturist Alvin Nava said that the assistance will expand the dragon fruit plantation in Guimaras which will also pave the way to higher production volume.

Noting the economic significance of dragon fruits, the provincial government likewise staged the first ever Dragon Fruit Festival last September 29-30, 2022.

According to the Capitol, the conduct of the Guimaras Dragon Fruit Fest aims to contribute to the recovery of the province's economy that is still reeling from the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The province and its partner organizations likewise figured to increase the awareness of the dragon fruit planting which translated to increased income of the local growers.

Now in its second year, the festivity once again allured locals and tourists alike. Exciting events marked the celebration of the festival such as the trade fairs, dragon fruit costume fun parade, fruit dragon tasting, forums and lectures.

Equally interesting, the dragon fruit farm tour became a crowd favorite along with the demonstration of dragon fruit cuisine and dragon fruit-based value-added products during the Dragon Fruit Kitchen demo.

A report from the Provincial Economic Development Office indicated positive impacts of the festivity held last August 4-13, 2023 at the Provincial Capitol grounds.

The trade fair alone has generated a sales of P1,112,469.00 coming from 60 exhibitors composed of dragon fruit farms, micro small and medium enterprises, garden operators, Sibunag AquaMarine Farmers Cooperative, and farmer associations.

Foreign visitors are having a great time savoring the dragon fruits. (Photo by: Guimaras PIO)

Apart from the trade fair, the   Bangus and Seafoods Market as well as Taste the Dragon Fruit gained revenues amounting to P372,209.00 and P16,800.00, respectively.

Meanwhile, some 8,263 tourists flocked to Jordan Wharf during the conduct of the festival.

As fresh dragon fruits are the main star, a total of 2,855 kilos or 2.9 MT were sold this year as compared to the previous festival which only recorded 946 kilos.

The annual festival and the outpouring support of the public and private sectors are testaments of how dragon fruits thrive in an island blessed with gifts of nature. Sure thing, cultivating dragon fruits can be a handful, yet, its benefits abound contributing to the economic growth and agricultural industry of Guimaras. (AAL/LMLE/PIA-Iloilo/With reports from Guimaras Province)

About the Author

Liez'l Marie Lamasan-Ejeda


Region 6

Write to live. Live to write. 

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