The production of dragon fruit or pitaya has experienced such a boom in Malaga in recent years that last year a cooperative dedicated to the production and marketing of this fruit was created in La Axarquía. This is Pitaya España, which brings together producers from all over Spain and even Portugal and which will soon open a headquarters in Velez-Malaga dedicated to exports and imports.
Pitaya España also has a nursery through which it sells the cuttings needed to grow dragon fruit, as well as providing advice to interested farmers. José Ángel Cano, one of the promoters of the crop, has announced that the cooperative is planning to build a factory dedicated to the production of processed products.
For Cano, the great advantage of this crop is the profitability for the farmer, around seven euros per kilo in origin, its productivity (higher from the third or fourth year, although it begins to produce fruit from the first), its water requirement significantly lower than other subtropical crops such as avocado or mango, the duration of the plant (more than 20 years), and the absence of pests and diseases.
Although there are numerous varieties, for Pitaya España there are about eight that adapt quite well to the province. The main destination of the pitaya is as a table fruit, especially the larger calibres, although it also has other culinary uses. The smaller calibres are used to make ice cream and juices. The fruit of the dragon can weigh between 350 grams and a kilo per piece.
Although the pitaya is increasingly known by Spanish consumers, the main destination of this fruit is export. On a national level, gourmet establishments are its priority destination.