Filipina determined to expand dragon fruit business in the US

October 28, 2015 5:37 am 

LAOAG CITY, Oct 27 — At 70, Edita Aguinaldo-Dacuycuy feels she is not retiring yet. Back from a two-week business trip to the United States, the trailblazer of the dragon fruit industry in Ilocos Norte said the mission to share the benefits of the dragon fruit cactus plant will continue to help generate more livelihood and more business opportunities here and abroad.

In the big island of Hilo, Hawaii, at least 200 posts of assorted varieties of dragon fruit cactus plant were planted in early 2014 for the setting up of initial planting materials sourced out from San Diego, California.

Unlike in the Philippines where most of the varieties are the white and magenta varieties, the Hilo-grown dragon fruit varieties are yellow and some special collections planted in front of a relative front yard and a small acre of farm lot just to test its potential growth in the lava-filled island.

Like what she had envisioned, the dragon cactus plants bear fruits and may now be able to reproduce more cuttings after this year’s fruiting season.

Following Dacuycuy’s recognition by organizers of the APEC Women and Economy Summit in San Francisco, California on September 2011, Dacuycuy said she was inspired to set up a mini-dragon fruit garden in Hilo where some of her relatives are also engaged in farming.

Dacuycuy pioneered the establishment of the first science and technology-based dragon fruit plantation in Barangay Paayas, Burgos, Ilocos Norte.

Efren Abalos, Dacuycuy’s nephew and caretaker of the cactus plants said dragon fruit promises a potential market in the Hawaiian islands.

“It grows well in this area with minimum maintenance. It just needs to be properly taken care of as wild animals may attack them,” Abalos said as some of the cactus plants were damaged by cows.

Nonetheless, Dacuycuy said she is not quitting to start up a bigger farm in the US.

The Philippines climate condition is quite similar to Hawaii and mostly Ilocano farmers cultivate the land.

“If we can do it in the Philippines, we could do it too in Hawaii. I believe in the potential of this business which has nurtured my family for the past 10 years and I should be sharing these blessings to every family who may need it,” Dacuycuy said, a self-confessed breast cancer survivor and a mother of child with cerebral palsy.

“I can’t ask for more. The Lord gave me enough strength and courage to move on. I hope He will give me more life so I could help and share more of these blessings I never thought it would come unexpectedly,” Dacuycuy said who discovered dragon fruit when a friend gave it to her to try on her daughter, who oftentimes encounter constipation problems.

Before the year ends, Dacuycuy said she will be sending back her other daughter Mildred, the operations manager of the family-owned REFMAD Farms to share the farming technology in Hilo and probably replicate the success of their farm to other families who may wish to start a livelihood here and abroad.

While other farmer-entreprenuers prefer to keep their trade secret unto themselves, Dacuycuy said blessings are meant to be shared and it should trickle down to all those who are not afraid to engage in business.

The demand for dragon fruit is huge, according to Dacuycuy, being one of the shareholders of the Dragon Fruit Philippines Incorporated who is now engaged in expanding more farms in the country and supply to the wholesale market. (PNA)

JMC/LEILANIE ADRIANO-LA/EDS

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