Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2021. 4:06 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: A delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE) attended a demonstration of pitahaya production field-day at Xul-Ha, Quintana Roo, Mexico, on Wednesday, August 11, 2021.
The MAFSE delegation was led by Chief Agriculture Officer Andrew Harrison and Research Director Ina Sánchez according to a Facebook post by Minister Jose Abelardo Mai who also attended the field day.
The pitahaya or dragon fruit is a cactus fruit grown both in Mexico and Belize.
Dragonfruitpitaya.org describes the pitahaya as “a mouth-watering light sweet taste, an intense shape and color, not forgetting its outstanding flowers. In addition to being tasty and refreshing, this beautiful fruit boasts of a lot of water and other vital minerals with varied nutritional ingredients.”
“We thank Ing Florencio Sung Solis, Delegado Federal del Secretaria de Agricultura y Desarollo Rural (SADR) for inviting our Belizean Technicians and farmers to Quintana Roo to a demonstration on Pitahaya in an Agro-Ecological system, something I had not witnessed before but nevertheless interesting.
The demonstration on Pitahaya in an Agro-Ecological system was facilitated by Florencio Sung Solis, an engineer from the Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) in Quintana Roo, Mexico.
A press release from the Government of Belize Press Office (GBPO) said pitahaya has become a commodity of economic importance in Quintana Roo where they now have over 2,000 acres planted.
“The objective of the field day was to share strategies and tools being used by SADER to promote commodities in the state of Quintana Roo and for the Belize delegation to learn in the production of pitahaya” the GBPO statement said. “A working group was also established to exchange experiences between the two countries.”
Dr. Ramiro De Alba Becerra, a retired researcher from Mexico’s National Institute of Forestry, Agricultural, and Livestock Research (INIFAP) who has done research on pitahaya for more than 20 years facilitated the demonstration at his own farm. Becerra cultivates the pitahaya in what he calls an agro-ecological system using minimum pesticide application, fence posts, and organic fertilizers. The fence posts are used to hold the plant upright.
The Ministry of Agriculture said it will collaborate with SADER to promote pitahaya in Belize.
MAFSE technical staff and farmers attended the demonstration.
Just last week, the MAFSE group was at the Peter Penner farm in Orange Walk where the pitahaya is grown as well.
In his Facebook post, Minister Mai said the pitahaya or dragon fruit may fetch market prices of $5-$6:00 US in the USA adding that the fruit dominates the Vietnam market in Asia.
“In our view it is the perfect fruit for small farmers to grow. Small acreages give high yields and the capital investment is definitely manageable,” Mai said.
“Locally, Pitahaya is selling at $4.00 a pound. The demand stems from the fact that it is very nutritious and that it has medicinal properties. Am amazed to see that restaurants and bars are now offering Pitahaya drinks and smoothies and even ice cream!!”
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