The Department of Agriculture’s (DA) High-Value Crops Development Program will help the province of Guimaras expand its dragon fruit plantation by 15 hectares to 20 hectares through a P10-million grant.

“It’s part of our intervention from the high-value crops. It’s for the expansion,” Jonifer Frades, DA high-value crops regional coordinator, said in an interview on Tuesday, Aug. 15.

Frades said they would give inputs, including planting materials, fertilizers, and capability building or training to members of the Guimaras Dragon Fruit Farmers Association.

He said the grant is part of their pipeline projects next year, and in January they will start with the selection and validation of areas where the crop could be planted.

“Currently, they are only at 14 hectares based on the PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority) data,” he added.

Frades said they saw the potential of the dragon fruit so they proposed for increased coverage.

“It is a promising high-value crop. Guimaras is one of the potential areas for dragon fruit aside from its mangoes,” he said.

Guimaras provincial agriculturist Alvin Nava, in a separate interview, said it is the first time the province would receive a huge support from the DA for a specific crop.

“This is a very much welcome initiative of DA because, with that P10 million worth of inputs, we can expand the dragon fruit area in the province,” he said.

Guimaras has just ended the staging of its Dragon Fruit Fest on Aug. 13, aiming to spread awareness about the product.

Nava said the Provincial Economic Development Office would come up with an official report on the outcome of the festival.

In a previous interview, he said dragon fruit production has steadily increased from almost 8 tons in 2019 to 10 tons to 12 tons in 2020 and 15 tons this year. Perla Lena/PNA