For a marginalized farmer, producing dragon fruit is an ambitious and challenging enterprise because this requires huge investment, patience, and time.
While it is costly to produce, it gives a big return. For this reason, a farmer can only wish to have this kind of production. One farmer only imagines this as some kind of venture, even to the extent of daydreaming, for he has no money to invest in the materials and inputs.
In 2018, the Special Area for Agricultural Development (SAAD) Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA) with its mission to reach out and help marginalized farmers of Siquijor province.
At first, the farmers did not believe right away because they thought that the SAAD assistance was just a mere government promise. However, upon receipt of the inputs, they changed the way they looked at the government and declared SAAD as a program true to its promise.
From the start of the implementation, only 20 farmers availed the Dragon Fruit Production Project (Table 1). To date, FA members doubled into 40 beneficiaries and have already formed into an association as the Dragon Fruit Pioneer Producers Association of Siquijor.
Table 1. FY 2018 SAAD Interventions on Dragon Fruit Production
|Dragon fruit planting materials||630||piece||94,500|
|Plastic drum with cover||1||unit||2,506|
|Heavy duty bolo||1||piece||506|
The group started to harvest last September 2020, while waiting for the release of its registration certificate from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) as a duly registered association.
As of September 2020, the group members harvested 15 to 115 kilograms (kg) of dragon fruit in each lot of 0.25 hectares (ha) or a total of 850kg in 3ha (Table 2). The fruits were sold at Php 100/kg. Each member has a monthly income of Php 500 to Php 11,500.
As the demand for dragon fruit grows, the group wants to expand its planting area.
Testimonies of Kenneth Maghanoy
On September 25, 2018, SAAD touch base with the municipalities of Maria and Enrique Villanueva to meet prospective beneficiaries for the project.
One of the farmers introduced was Kenneth Maghanoy, who has an idle lot of 0.25 hectares beside his bell pepper farm. A SAAD staff asked him if he was interested in the project. “Yes sir, I am really interested in that project because it has been a long time since I dreamed of growing that fruit on my farm. But I doubt about the project because it is from the government,” Kenneth said.
Despite initial hesitations, Kenneth became one of the SAAD beneficiaries of the Dragon Fruit Production. With eagerness, he attended and completed the three-day dragon fruit production training which includes a farm visit to a successful dragon fruit farm – the Inao’s Dragon Fruit Farm in Siquijor.
Two months after the training, he received 156 concrete posts and planting materials. On November 5, 2019, a monitoring visit was conducted and results showed that he established and implemented all the interventions he received from the SAAD Program.
Kenneth testified during the monitoring, “Ang SAAD sa DA, matuman gayud” (The promise of the DA comes true).
True enough, from the training and the interventions that he received with the program, Jaime felt the support and regained his trust in the government.
As the demand for fresh dragon fruit in the market increases every day, it gives more opportunities to the SAAD beneficiaries to explore value-added products for potential enterprises. ###
Jemiema Arro, DA SAAD, PR and Communication Officer