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Ministry of Agriculture promotes the cultivation of pitahaya (dragon fruit)

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Posted: Wednesday, August 25, 2021. 8:50 pm CST.

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Enterprise (MAFSE) has embarked in a campaign to promote the cultivation of pitahaya or dragon fruit.

“In our view it is the perfect fruit for small farmers to grow,” MAFSE Minister Jose Abelardo Mai said recently on a Facebook post. “Small acreages give high yields and the capital investment is definitely manageable.”

On Friday, August 20, the Agriculture Department in Orange Walk completed two days of training on pitahaya cultivation.

The training conducted by OW Agriculture Officer Barry Palacio who covered an overview of the pitahaya and a practical session on how to plant the cactus fruit.

A total of 41 persons attended the session said MAFSE that on Tuesday, August 24, posted a pitahaya cultivation guide on its Facebook page.

“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. I’m amazed to see that restaurants and bars are now offering Pitahaya drinks and smoothies and even ice cream,” Mai said.

Minister Mai said the pitahaya or dragon fruit fetches market prices of $5-$6:00 US in the United States.

The pitahaya or dragon fruit is a cactus fruit grown both in Mexico and Belize. Recently, a MAFSE delegation visited Mexico to learn more about the cultivation of this fruit which the Ministry hopes will be taken up by Belizean farmers.

At Xul-ha in Quintana Roo, Mexico, the Agriculture delegation, led by Chief Agriculture Officer Andrew Harrison and Research Director Ina Sánchez according to a Facebook post by Minister Jose Abelardo Mai, attended a demonstration of pitahaya production facilitated by Florencio Sung Solis, engineer from the Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

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”.

After the visit, the Ministry of Agriculture said a working group was established to exchange experiences between Mexico and Belize. MAFSE will be collaborating with SADER to promote pitahaya in Belize.

A few days before the Mexico visit, a MAFSE group also visited the Peter Penner farm in Orange Walk where the pitahaya is cultivated.

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