|Title:||Profile of the Dragon Fruit Growers and the Dragon Fruit Industry in Ilocos Norte|
|Researchers:||Marivic M. Alimbuyuguen, Sherlyn B. Nicolas, Marjorie P. Garcia, & Mercy Fausta R. Gano|
This study described the profile of dragon fruit growers and the dragon fruit industry in Ilocos Norte. Specifically, it aimed to: 1) describe the socio-demographic profile of dragon fruit growers in terms of their personal, economic and farm characteristics; 2) determine the profitability level of dragon fruit production in the province based on cost and revenue/return analysis; 3) describe the dragon fruit industry; and 4). identify the best practices in dragon fruit production in Ilocos Norte.
As a descriptive study, data were gathered through a personal interview using an interview schedule to 82 dragon fruit growers and an in-depth interview using a guide question to six dragon fruit entrepreneurs in the 14 municipalities and two cities in Ilocos Norte. Data were analyzed using frequency counts, means, and percentages. Ranking was used to describe the profile of the dragon fruit industry. The profitability level was determined through a cost and return analysis from 25 dragon fruit growers categorized into five as to number of posts.
The study showed that dragon fruit growers were of both sexes, 54 years old, college level, with four household members and had attended trainings on dragon fruit production. From their rice farm of 0.84, they earned an average of Php11, 414.00 as their major income. As to their farm profile, they maintained 400 poles of dragon fruit or more, planted in idle lands, marginal areas, or underutilized which they owned. They sourced their planting materials from friends and Magsasaka Siyentista (MS) Edit Dacuycuy from whom they learned the dragon fruit technology. Health and income were their primary motivation for planting dragon fruit. Upon harvest, most of them immediately sell their produce, thus, only few practice value-adding.
In terms of profitability, dragon fruit growers were unable to recover their production costs for the first year but were able to realize net income for the second and third years. Profitability is already achieved during second year and continues to increase for the third year due to lower production costs and greater yield. As to the cost and revenue analysis of dragon fruit production per post for three years, production costs diminished as the number of posts increased with Php792.80/post for 50-99 posts and Php489.64 for 400 and more. In terms of profitability, data showed that the higher the number of posts, the greater the profits earned per post. For 50-99 posts, profits amounted to Php10.93 which is the lowest and highest at Php722.20/post for 400 posts and more. Comparing the break-even price and selling price, findings showed that after three years actual selling prices were higher than break-even prices for all post categories with an average break-even price of Php31.94/kg and average actual selling price of Php75.50/kg resulting to a difference of Php43.56.
Dragon fruit industry had impacted on their lives as verbalized by growers. Socially, it had enhanced human personal relationships between and among dragon fruit growers and their communities. Technologically, it had increased their knowledge and developed skills on value-adding/processing technologies. Economically, it contributed to financial independence, and created livelihood and employment opportunities for community people. Environmentally, the crop had provided healthy and safe food for the family and community members and transformed marginal into productively areas. Politically, it had strengthened partnership with the government.
The best practices of the dragon fruit growers include: going organic, integrated farming, and value – adding. Compared to the ordinary dragon fruit growers, the six were more creative and innovative. Likewise, they practiced smooth personal relations with their workers and community. Moreover, they have strengthened their linkages and networks. Personally, they believe they have achieved success because they love and enjoy what they are doing.
It is therefore recommended that: 1) LGUs should encourage constituents to establish a dragon fruit garden in every home; 2) Given the economic and health benefits from dragon fruit, DSWD can consider dragon fruit production as a source of income of 4Ps beneficiaries and the less fortunate members in the community 3) Conduct of researches particularly on pest and disease management, and shelf-life of dragon fruit processed food products; 4) Extension activities on dragon fruit production should be geared towards skills trainings on processing/value adding; enhancement of packaging and labelling of processed dragon fruit products such as pastries, sweets and jams and dried dragon fruit; continuous advocacy towards organic fertilizer management, integrated pest management, and integrated farming in dragon fruit production and conduct training on record keeping and book keeping for dragon fruit growers to realistically gauge their returns from dragon fruit production; 5) Provision of financial assistance for dragon fruit processor-entrepreneurs particularly on the purchase of processing equipment, facilities, tools, and paraphernalia by linking them with the DOST’s “Small Enterprise Technology Upgrading Program” (SET-UP) and other financing institution’s; 6) Intensify support to dragon fruit grower- entrepreneurs through market promotion of their processed products, and established dragon fruit farms; and 7) Conduct a follow-up study, particularly on trend analysis to determine the most profitable years of dragon fruit production and the time in which profit diminishes given the various post categories especially that dragon fruit has 25 years life span since the study only considered three years profitability.