A group of researchers from the Tecnológico of Monterrey are developing an agricultural project that seeks to use the pitahaya to help the marginalized municipalities in the state of Puebla develop and grow exponentially.
The private institution said the study takes into consideration the entire process, from its cultivation by women in the region to the processing for sale, with the aim of improving the living conditions of people in this part of the country.
The researchers chose to conduct the Pitahaya Agricultural Utilization Project in the municipalities of Izucar de Matamoros and Ahuatlan from the municipality of Puebla because they had a high degree of marginality and presented social problems due to the neglect of agriculture.
The local campus' research group is made up by Carlos Brambila, leader of the Base of the Pyramid Legacy ITESM; Patricia Reyna, Chuck Cristina, Miguel Angel Tinoco, Jorge Welti and Roberto Parra Saldivar.
This interdisciplinary approach identifies the social problems of the town's inhabitants currently living there and of those who emigrated to the United States and send money to their families, they said.
It also analyses the properties of a fruit native to the region and the potential to grow it, process it and market it, they added.
Parra Saldivar said that, "they were studying the possibility of developing a market for the pitahaya fruit, native to this semiarid region, based on nostalgia in the US market."
They are also looking for "an economic activity in Mexico that will hep make this region self sustaining, hence the old Agricultural Utilization Project Pitaya," they stated.
The pitahaya has beneficial health characteristics, such as generating nutraceutical properties that can prevent chronic degenerative diseases, and having biologically important antioxidants.
"This fruit has a great potential and, since it's native to the area, we have optimal conditions to produce it; however, it had been neglected up to now. Up to now there is no pitahaya genebank, so there is a big opportunity that we are developing," they said.
They also stated that there would be an exponential growth in the region when they started the stage of planting pitahaya.
"There will be economic growth, social development focused on empowering women, as they will be the ones who work the land, processing and obviously technical development in the region," they said.