The growing demand for pitaya in different markets has motivated the Malaga-based producer Pedro Ductor to give it a go and set up a plantation of this tropical fruit, native to Central America, in the Spanish municipality of Ronda.
After conducting an exhaustive study of its cultivation in Andalusia and the conditions required for it to grow, a year and a half ago Pedro set up an organic plantation of 1,500 specimens under cover. There he is growing three varieties of pitaya: a red-skinned one with white flesh, a red one with red flesh, and a yellow one with white flesh.
At this time, the plantation is in full bloom and the fruit is forming, so the first production will be harvested soon. Still, during the first years, the volume is usually lower than when the plant reaches full maturity. By then, he expects pitaya production from these facilities to range between 8,000 and 10,000 kilos.
The pitaya stands out for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also helps in the absorption of iron, contains ascorbic acid and phenols, is rich in vitamin C, contains vitamins of the B group, has a high water content and has minerals such as phosphorus, iron or calcium. Furthermore, it contains soluble fiber and vegetable protein, and the seeds, which are edible, are a source of beneficial fatty acids and help regulate intestinal transit.
As is often the case with other crops of national origin that are well-received in the market due to their quality, most of the production is intended for consumption abroad. However, Ductor still hopes that part of the production can remain in the area, since there are also important restaurants that could use it in their dishes once production is at full capacity.
Regarding the cost, a ripe pitaya of adequate size can currently be sold for between 6 and 7 Euro per kilo, although in some large markets its price can reach 17 Euro per kilo. This is really good, considering that a single piece can easily weight over half a kilo.