The pitahaya (also known as dragon fruit) has great health benefits and a high demand in international markets.
The Dominican Republic's has diversified and distributed its pitahaya crops in different provinces. Currently, the country has almost 38 hectares planted with this fruit. This area would allow producer to have a yearly production of approximately RD $19.8 million.
According to the vice president of the Pitahaya Producers Cluster, Abraham Mora, producers make around RD $33,000 in profits each year for every tarea that they cultivate, (i.e. around RD $495,000 per hectare).
According to representatives of the sector, which got together in a meeting organized by the National Confederation of Agricultural Producers (Confenagro) and the Pitahaya Producers Cluster, the cultivation of this fruit is ideal to diversify existing agricultural farms. They also highlighted the importance of promoting this fruit in order to export it to international markets.
Mora said that they had been able to export the product to Spain last year with the help of the Government. He also stated that the United States alone demanded 60 containers of pitahayas per month, which the country currently didn't supply, so there is a market waiting to receive the product.
In addition, the executives of Confenagro and the Cluster stated that they had received financing from the Special Fund for Agricultural Development (FEDA) to incorporate 25 hectares of this fruit.
There are some 150 pitahaya producers registered in the country, which have planted more than 15 hectares and have established their projects in the East, Santiago, and Neiba.
Cluster representatives stated that the planting of pitahaya is highly profitable, as producers can harvest around 220 pounds of fruit per year in a tarea with a plant density of 332 three-year-old plants per tarea (i.e. almost 3,500 pounds per hectare and around 5,610 plants).