On September 8, FFTC held a dragon fruit workshop field trip in southern Taiwan to visit a Global G.A.P certified dragon fruit (DF) farm, a successful DF farmer who previously worked for an IT company, and two successful value addition programs emphasizing smallholder famers and healthy local food systems. The participants included dragon fruit experts from Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) Fengshan Branch; Taichung and Tainan District Agricultural Research and Extension Stations (DARES); Agriculture and Food Agency, COA; National Taiwan University; and representatives from Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and diplomatic mission offices including Malaysian Friendship and Trade Center, Taipei Office of Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association, Vietnam Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office, and American Institute in Taiwan. The field trip is a part of the coming FFTC online/onsite workshop on “Dragon Fruit Value Chain for Global Markets” to be held on 22-23 September at National Chung Hsing University, Taichung (https://sites.google.com/fftc.org.tw/dfnet-workshop-en/home).
The first visited Ru Orchard, whose farm owner is Mr. Chao-Ru Hong. In 2013, Mr. Hong decided to resign from an IT company and went back home as a farmer. He attended and benefited from diverse training courses sponsored by the Taiwan government. He is now producing high-quality dragon fruits and earns stable and good incomes developing F2C (Farmer to Consumer) e-commerce business and wholesale channel. Despite of lower market prices due to continuous increased production of dragon fruits in recent years, he told that the focus on high-quality fruit production, applying social media and e-commerce are the secret to the success.
Next, the delegates visited the south distribution center of Homemakers Union Consumers Co-op (HUCC). Mr. Yuan-Hung Chung and his colleague gave a brief introduction of how the center was operated. The increasing food safety and environmental concerns from the general public nurture the growth of HUCC. Up to 2020, HUCC has nearly 90,000 registered members and the agri-food products cover more than 1,000 items. The HUCC has also set up an internal bonus-share mechanism to share annual profits to all registered members.
A fresh and delicious dragon fruit juice bought from DaYung’s tea shop was provided to each participant during lunch. The red color of the juice was attractive and the flavors were excellent coming from a combination of tropical fruits. All participants were impressed and felt rejuvenated! The juice product is one of the examples of value addition program that was highlighted in this field trip program.
After enjoying local cuisines with the three popular local food (sweet potato, pineapple, and bamboo shoot) at the Ye-Tou-Yang-Fong restaurant in Xinhua, Tainan, the delegates headed to Kua Kua Orchard, the main sweet potato products provider in Taiwan. Based on the sound contract farming for stable supply, recently Kua Kua Orchard introduced and discussed the e-management system to enhance farming efficiency in terms of labor, yield, quality, adding price competitiveness in the market. Now, Kua Kua Orchard preserves more than 1,500 sweet potato germplasm for market-oriented breeding project in the future. Kua Kua Orchard are sensitive to and value much consumer’s taste and preference. They provide diverse products in markets.
The last site visited was the Global G.A.P. certified dragon fruit farm, Pin-Li Orchard. Mr. Ming-Shu Hsieh, the farm owner cultivates dragon fruit, jujube, and passionfruit and sold these fruits via B2B model to the international and domestic markets. Mr. Hsieh mentioned that it is the international trade and price, not the fruit quality, the main determining factor drives the market deals. For domestic food processors, the products from the Global G.A.P. certified harvests are their first choice because GGAP certification endorses the farm products are safe!