Rambutan arrived in Peru in the year 2000 and since then, despite various attempts, it has not managed to grow in the country despite its many qualities that make it commercially attractive.
"The company that brought the rambutan has developed research work for six or seven years, with five or six varieties so far, but it has not managed to take off in large or productive areas. They have them in trials, refining the technological issue, the propagation and adaptation of varieties, but there is still no development or technology," said William Daga, a specialist in fruit trees of Sierra and Selva Exportadora.
One place it has found fertile ground, besides Asia, where it originated, is in Guatemala, one of the largest exporters of rambutan next to Mexico, which has successfully exported it to the United States and part of South America (Brazil).
So why hasn't rambutan worked in Peru yet?
According to Daga, there are only an average of five to seven hectares of rambutan in the country that produce four to five tons a year, which are immediately absorbed by the Lima market through supermarkets at very high prices (similar to the pitahaya, which can cost around S/10 soles per kilo).
The problem, he says, is that the crop is not working in the Peruvian central jungle, so it should be planted in areas further north, such as Yurimaguas, San Martin, and Amazonas, and even on the Peruvian coast in regions such as Piura and Tumbes, which are tropical dry areas, as it is native to monsoon climates like the mango.
To do this, it is a priority to have the appropriate technology, defined patterns and grafts that do not take long to produce. It is also necessary to develop a zoning that identifies the best agro-ecological zones for its production, as they would somehow have to be similar to the conditions in Guatemala, where this crop thrives thanks to the combination of volcanic soils, a lot of rain and heat, and effective irrigation. In addition, producers must control the fruit fly and comply with export protocols.
Rambutan has a great export potential in North America and Europe -not in Asia, as it originated there and competes with other tropical fruits such as mangosteen and litchi - so a joint action with regional governments is needed to boost it.
"Plant material also needs to be democratized; as long as only one company, one single group, owns it, things are going to be complicated because it becomes a monopoly. I think there should be institutions like the INIA or others dedicated to research with new material and try it in plots so that it is not only supplied by one single company. Expanding this crop requires the participation of the State, and the support of Sierra and Selva Exportadora, the Minister of Agriculture, and local governments," he said.