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3 reasons why should farmers venture into the Dragon Fruit?

It’s usually the case where exotic fruits are alluring to consumers in an abundant amount. However, can they be profitable to farmers? Can they bring out higher profits in agriculture, especially in Kenya? Dragon Fruit farming has been seen as an attractive investment opportunity since it’s a high income generating crop that requires very little work once established. Here are the 3 main reasons why farmers should venture into dragon fruit farming;

1) Easy to plant and maintain

Dragon fruit plants grow rapidly reaching their full height of 2-3 meters within three years. The dragon fruit has adapted to survive under harsh conditions, making them ideal for subsistence farming in the tropics where the soil is less fertile and therefore requires little care once established.

They have spines on their leaves which protect them from predators. They are also drought-resistant, but they do need sufficient water at some point during the year if continuously bearing fruits. If there is no irrigation source near your farm then you can plan for rain harvesting structures to cater to this water need. Farmers can easily get an abundant yield from this plant, which is another reason why it is a good investment.

2) Low input and high returns

Many farmers have been able to get a good return from exporting fruit because of the demand in many countries around the world. The fruit has become increasingly popular and is increasing in value in the local and export markets. So far, there is a low supply and a high demand for dragon fruits. This makes it ideal for small-scale investors who might not be able to invest large amounts of capital but want to benefit from agricultural exports. To maximize profits, farmers should process the fruit, using it to add value to various products such as energy bars, ice cream, yogurt, juices, pastries, and jelly.

A single fruit weighs between 600 grams and 1.2kg. A kilo of a dragon fruit retails for between Kshs. 750 and Kshs. 1000 making it one of the most expensive fruits. It’s so expensive because of its supply and demand factors, whereby consumers are willing to pay more just to get it even if they do not know what it tastes like.

3) High nutritional value hence a high demand

The fruit is a mix of crunchy and juicy textures. It contains high levels of vitamin C, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, or iron which are important for good health. The fruit also contains fiber that helps the body to absorb essential nutrients from food as well as regulate bowel function. This means that the farmers will benefit from their investment because they can easily sell these fruits without needing any processing expertise, thus creating a higher return on investment.

Recommendation for farmers

The above reasons are the main drivers which make dragon fruit lucrative to local farmers.  Because of its high demand in the market, one can easily get good returns on investment. However, there are some challenges which most farmers face like how to produce quality fruit for export and the best farm practices to apply when growing this crop.

We recommend that you should make use of local dragon fruit seedlings or rooted cuttings instead of using seeds since buying is more economical than getting the plant from an open field where it might have been exposed to diseases like bacterial wilt. Also, research on areas with suitable weather conditions before venturing into cultivation especially in terms of temperature and rainfall patterns.

Make sure you have a market for the produce before going into production since it takes up to 5 months from planting to harvesting. Ensure your farm is protected from birds and pests which can eat ripen fruits. Seek advice from established farmers who harvest regularly or experienced extension officers and know how to deal with any pest or disease that might affect your crop.

Farmers should do proper planning such as demand forecast, site selection and equipment purchase.

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Top 10 tastiest and rarest fruits in the world

Ackee

Ackee fruit
Ackee Fruit

Ackee  is a rarest and strange looking fruit that grows in the tropical regions of West Africa. Although native to West Africa the use of ackee in food is especially common in Jamaican cuisine. It is the national fruit of Jamaica and ackee and saltfish is the national dish.

Ackee is pear-shaped but when it ripens, it turns from green to a bright red to yellow-orange and splits open to reveal three large, shiny black seeds each partly surrounded by soft, creamy to spongy white to yellow flesh.

The dried seeds, fruit, bark and leaves are used medicinally. The ackee fruit is canned and is a major export product in Jamaica.

Rambutan

Its an important fruit tree of humid tropical southeast Asia. Traditionally cultivated especially in Indonesia, malysia and Thailand. The fruit is a round to oval single-seeded berry borne in a loose pendant cluster of 10-20 together.

The leathery skin is reddish and covered with fleshy pliable spines hence the name which means ‘hairs’. The fruit fresh which is actually the aril, is translucent whitish or very pale pink, with a sweet, mildly acidic flavor very reminiscent of grapes.

The fruits are usually sold fresh, used in making jams and jellies, or canned. Its bark roots and leaves have various medicinal value and also used in making of dyes.

Dragon Fruit

It is believed to be a native of Mexico. In Tropical and Sub-tropical regions in South America and Asia the dragon fruit flourishes and grows in abundance.

Its outer skin is cactus-like resembling that of the scales of mythical dragons. The fruit’s texture is sometimes likened to that of the Kiwi fruit because of its black, crunchy seed. The flesh which is eaten raw, is mildly sweet and low in calories.

The seeds are eaten together with the flesh have a nutty taste and are rich in lipid, but they are indigestible unless chewed. The fruit is also converted into juice or wine, or used to flavor other beverages. The flowers can be eaten or steeped as tea.

Read: Basic Characteristics of an agri-preneur

Jabuticaba

It is a rare purple colored fruit native to S.E Brazil. It’s a thick-skinned berry and typically measures 3-4 cm in diameter.

It resembles that of a slip skin grape. It has a thick, purple astringent skin that encases a sweet, white or rosy pink gelatinous flesh. Fresh fruits may begin to ferment 3-4 days after harvest. It’s used to make jams, tarts, strong wines and liquors.

Because of its extremely short shelf life fresh jabuticaba fruit is very rare in markets.

Miracle Fruit

Miracle fruit
Miracle fruit

It grows in the tropical forests of W. Africa where it is known for its sweet berry, It has low sugar and a mildy sweet tang. It contains glycoprotein molecule, with some trailing carbohydrates chains, called miraculin.

When the fleshy part is eaten this molecule binds to the tongue’s taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet.

In Japan, Miracle fruit is popular among patients with diabetes and dieters.

Read: Why Kakuzi Ltd is abandoning Pineaple and venturing into hass avocado farming

Durian

Its native to South East Asia. It is destructive for its large size, strong odor, and formidable thorn covered husk. Its flesh can be consumed at various stages of ripeness and it is used to flavor a wide variety of savoring and sweet edibles in Southeast Asian cuisines.

Some people regard the durian as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance. Others find the aroma overpowering with an unpleasant odor. The smell evokes reactions from deep appreciation to intense, disgust, and has been described variously as rotten onions, turpentine, and raw sewage.

The persistence of its odor which may linger for several days has led to the fruits banishment from certain hotels and public transportation in South East Asia.

African Horned Cucumber

African Horned Fruit
African Horned Fruit (Also known as Thorn Melon)

Native to Sub-Saharan Africa and its now grown in California, Mississippi, Portugal, Italy, Germany, Chile, Australia and New Iceland. Ripe fruits have yellow-orange skin and lime green, jelly like flesh with a tart taste, and texture similar to a cucumber. It can be eaten at any stage ripening but when over-ripened, will burst forcefully to release seeds.

Its taste has been compared to combination of cucumber and Zuchini, and it is also said to taste like an unripe watered down banana.

Mangosteen

Mangosteen is a tropical evergreen tree believed to have originated in the sunda Islands and the moluceas of Indonesia. It grows mainly in Southeast Asia, South west India and other tropical areas such as Puerto Rico and Florida. The Mangosteen fruit is sweet tangy, juicy, somewhat fibrous with fluid-filled vesicles like the flesh of citrus fruits with an inedible, deep reddish-purple colored rind when ripe.

Cherimoya (Custard Apple)

Cherimoya is mainly grown throughout South Asia, America, Southern Europe and East Africa. It is the most delicious fruit known to man.

The fruit is oval, often slightly oblate, with a smooth or slightly tuberculated skin. The fruit flesh is white and creamy and has numerous dark brown poisonous seeds embedded in it.

The fruit can be chilled and eaten with a spoon, which has earned it another nickname, the ice-cream fruit.  Indeed, in Peru, it is usually used in ice creams and yogurt.

Cupuacu

It’s a tropical rain-forest related to cacao. Common throughout the Amazon basin it is widely cultivated in the jungles of Colombia, Bolivia and Peru in the north of brazil. With the largest production in Para. They are oblong, brown, and fuzzy 20cm long and covered with a thick hard exocarp.

The white pulp of the cupuacu has an odor described as a mix of chocolate and pineapple and is frequently used in desserts, juices and sweets. Basically, its juice tastes like a pear with a hint of banana.

Read: How to make millions from watermelons farming

Now you know, there are millions and millions of fruits in the world. The questions you should ask yourself today is, have you planted a tree-fruit this year? if not, hook up with us and we will guide you on the best fruits that suit your area and expectations.