Validating Dragon Fruit production capacity

The project “Dragon fruit: validating red dragon fruit production capacity” is coordinated by Amílcar Duarte, a researcher at the Mediterranean Institute for Agriculture, Environment and Development – MED. Funded through the support provided for Operating Groups under the Rural Development Programme PDR2020, this project aims to develop dragon fruit production in Portugal.

end poverty  Produção e Consumo Sustentáveis
 

The project “Dragon fruit: validating red dragon fruit production capacity” is coordinated by Amílcar Duarte, a researcher at the Mediterranean Institute for Agriculture, Environment and Development – MED. Funded through the support provided for Operating Groups under the Rural Development Programme PDR2020, this project aims to develop dragon fruit production in Portugal.

Though several varieties of the fruit exist, presenting with different colours of skin and flesh, the study focuses on the redskinned dragon fruit, in both in its white and red/pink-fleshed varieties. The aim is to determine which of them adapt best to the conditions found in Portugal, as well as the most appropriate farming technology for use in the country.

This project also aims to increase awareness of both the plant and fruit among farmers and the general public, and to help us understand how the various species of dragon fruit adapt to climatic conditions, particularly in the Algarve.

 “We are monitoring several pioneer producers of this crop in Portugal and Spain and have carried out tests both outdoors and in greenhouses to determine which types of soil are most suitable, as well as the most appropriate ways of handling the plant,” says Amílcar Duarte. The study also intends to determine irrigation and fertilisation requirements, though it is known that, as a cactus, the plant needs relatively little water. This factor makes dragon fruit cultivation well-suited to the Algarve, given the periods of drought experienced in the region. The demand for dragon fruit is increasing due to its health benefits. A fruit with interesting nutritional characteristics, it aids in weight loss, as it is low in calories but high in fibre, vitamins and minerals.

As the researcher explains, “We hope that the development of the knowledge and technology necessary to cultivate this plant, will lead to some farmers growing it and earning additional income.”

He also predicts that “due to its labour requirements, this crop will be especially well-suited to small, family-owned farms.

This project is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. As a viable crop for small farms, it may contribute to “eradicating poverty”, increasing the incomes of the most impoverished families who live in rural areas. Dragon fruit
farming is also sustainable since it does not need a lot of water, thus contributing to sparing this valuable resource.

Amílcar Duarte


Amílcar Duarte has a degree in Agronomy, a Master in Citriculture, a Doctorate in Agricultural Sciences - Specialty in Fruit Growing and a researcher at the Mediterranean Institute for Agriculture, Environment and Development (MED).