The province of Guimaras, known for its sweetest mangoes, now promotes an emerging agriculture product with its second-year staging of the Dragon Fruit Fest with the end goal of enticing both investors and tourists.

Francisco Gentoral, Guimaras Provincial Economic Development (PED) officer, said on Friday, Aug. 4, even if their plantation in the province is small, they would like to produce a world-class quality dragon fruit, the way they emphasized efforts for their mango products.

“The festival is one way to spread awareness about this product. Here in Guimaras, the festival is not only to attract tourists but also to ensure that investors will also be attracted to put in their investments,” Gentoral said in a press conference at the opening of the festival in the municipality of Jordan.

He added that from six hectares when the province staged its first dragon festival in 2022, the area planted has increased to 28 hectares this year.

Provincial agriculturist Alvin Nava said the production of the dragon fruit steadily increased since 2019. From almost eight tons in 2019, the production jumped to around 10 to 12 tons in 2020 and 15 tons this 2023.

“The areas planted with dragon fruit are almost scattered in the province. The good dragon fruit farms are established in slope areas with no stagnant water and exposed to sunlight,” he said.

Aside from the agri-trade fair that opened on Friday, there will be a blended international business forum on dragon fruit farming on Aug. 10 that will gather farmers, members of the Guimaras Dragon Fruit Growers Association (GDFGA), interested participants from outside of the province and abroad, and expert-scientists on dragon fruit.

GDFGA president Bonifacio Tespoer said the forum will focus on three issues, including pests and diseases, general management, and proper selection of planting materials.

The festival, which will end Aug. 13, has other activities like the “Taste the dragon” where various delicacies made of the fruit will be made available to the public for a fee, a dragon fruit classroom, a dragon fruit kitchen where a chef will present innovative recipes, a farm tour, and a bangus and seafood market on various dates.

Guimaras senior tourism operations officer Liberty Ferrer said they targeted weekends for the events because the foot traffic in the province is always heavy towards the end of the week.Perla Lena/PNA