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Ilocos Norte Dragon Fruit Farm Now Planting Materials Source

Last December, I visited the first dragon fruit farm in the Ilocos Region, the REFMAD Farm in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, which is owned and managed by husband and wife Rodolfo and Edita Dacuycuy from Pasuquin.

It started only in November 2006 primarily for the production of fruits that could be of help to the couple’s 23-year old daughter who is suffering from cerebral palsy as they were told earlier that fruits have some medicinal properties.

At the time of our first visit, the Dacuycuys had already established 1.5 hectares (ha) of dragon fruit farm from Central and South America. After almost one year, they have established an additional 1.5 ha, which was a forested area. They have also hired more farm workers; last year there were only three workers and now there are eight of them.

However, the plantation was hit by typhoons, and the production was affected. “Were it not for the last two typhoons, Karen and Marce, the plants would be laden with fruits now,” Edita said.

REFMAD Farm now also sells planting materials. In fact, in a period of eight months, Edita has already sold planting materials good for 4 ha.

They initially established a nursery in their backyard. Today, they raise planting materials between papaya trees as well as between the rows of dragon fruit plants. As of last September, Edita said the available planting materials were already good for 30 ha, and the production continues without letup because their sales have been increasing.

Retired colonel Sagibo of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, for instance, bought planting materials right after reading about it. Carmencita de Perio and her husband went to REFMAD Farm all the way from Bolinao, Pangasinan to buy a dozen planting materials. And a farmer in Lipa City bought 2,400 plants for 600 poles. Edita also told us that they were also expecting the city council of Candon City in Ilocos Sur who would be getting the seedlings the day after we went to their farm.

The local government unit of Burgos, Ilocos Norte has singled out dragon fruit for its One-Town-One-Product program.

Edita said she first asked the local government unit of Pasuquin to help her locate an appropriate site before she started the plantation in Burgos. However, her request fell in deaf ears, so to speak. And now that Pasuquin people could already see the bright prospects of dragon fruit, they already begin to regret why the plantation was not established in their town.

Because of the bright prospects of dragon fruit, two businessmen from Laoag City have become Edita’s partners in the establishment of two separate expansion farms in Ablan, Burgos, Ilocos Norte. The total area of these two farms is 9.5 had, and the cost of establishing a hectare is P1.5 million. This amount covers the cost of concrete posts, planting materials, fertilizer, fencing, and labor.

Although they found earlier that dragon fruit grows best on wooden poles, Edita has decided to continue using concrete poles for two reasons. One, it’s now very difficult to find wooden poles, considering that most of the forest areas in Ilocos Norte now have only second growth vegetation. Second, the expected life of dragon fruit concrete posts is 50 years, whereas wooden poles would have to be replaced every now and then, thereby disturbing the productivity of the plants.

Edita suggests that beginners without much money could start with only 100 poles. From there, they can already expand as they continue to produce additional planting materials.

This lady, who graduated from the University of the Philippines with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in 1968, said one can easily get back half of his investment in the second year. That’s because from fruits alone, an investor already earns much as the price per kilo is P150. Edita said she harvests an average of 185 kilos of fruits every two weeks from 10-month-old plants, and she has already harvested six times since the start of the fruiting season this year. That would give her P166,500.

According to Edita, it takes one month from flower bud formation before a fruit could, be harvested. The flowers open 10 days after flower bud formation, and it will also take 10 days for the fruits to develop, and another 10 days to mature.

In addition to the income from the fruits, one can derive income from the production of planting materials. If one starts small, say 100 poles, and produces planting materials as the plants mature to bear fruits, one would eventually be able to plant a wider area, thereby saving him from paying for the seedlings.

So what are you doing?’ You may just as well try making money from dragon fruit.