FFTC, the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS) and the Southern Horticultural Research Institute (SOFRI) joined forces once again to gather dragon fruit experts from different countries to organize another workshop—this time on dragon fruit marketing and the whole value chain.
The DFNet history
What started as a simple survey of tropical fruit production and marketing in 2014, resulted in a series of workshops, that began in 2015 when FFTC held the international workshop on “Improving Pitaya Production and Marketing” in Kaoshiung, Taiwan which was attended by 20 speakers from 11 countries. One of the recommendations of the said workshop was to involve the stakeholders in the formation of a dragon fruit network. Following this lead, in 2016, the Center organized another workshop in Khon Kaen, Thailand entitled “Regional Workshop on the Control of Dragon Fruit Diseases.” In the said workshop, which was attended by 17 speakers from nine countries, another strong recommendation was to form a regional network to focus on the pests and diseases of dragon fruit.
In November, 2017 and March 2018, two meetings were held to form a network of dragon fruit experts. An organizing committee composed of FFTC, the Mekong Institute, the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute and the New Zealand Plant and Food Research Institute met in Taiwan to further discuss the formation of the research network. In the said meeting, the committee agreed to expand the scope of the network from dragon fruit pests and diseases to include the entire dragon fruit industry.
Last April 21-25, 2018 in Taipei, FFTC once again gathered 20 speakers from seven countries and organized another workshop entitled “Dragon Fruit Regional Initiation Workshop.” One of the strong recommendations of the said workshop was for FFTC to take the lead to make sure the building of a network of dragon fruit researchers, technologists, leaders of research institutes and government officers working in dragon fruit production and marketing continues.
Through the support of VAAS and SOFRI, the international workshop on “Dragon Fruit Network: Marketing and the Whole Value Chain and Steering Committee Meeting” were held on September 9-11 at the SOFRI Headquarters in Mytho City, Vietnam. The workshop had 13 speakers from 10 countries who delivered presentations on the various aspects of the dragon fruit value chains. There were three sessions which formed the technical reports: 1) Dragon fruit production and postharvest handling; 2) Sharing of experiences on international marketing of dragon fruit; and 3) country reports which talked about the dragon fruit quality system, quarantine regulation, and major industry constraints in different countries.
Based on the discussions that ensued after the paper presentations, the speakers and participants were able to draw the following findings and recommendations:
1. Set up a concrete plan among the members of the Dragon Fruit Network (DFNet) to prepare and procure dragon fruit healthy planting materials;
2. Share the knowledge and experiences of breeding, pests and diseases management, and postharvest handling in the dragon fruit research network from each country;
3. Promote the Global GAPs concept to the growers and show how to run the sustainable dragon fruit production management, postharvest handling which can benefit the farmer's income; and, continue to share the information to the dragon fruit growers;
4. Collect pertinent information on the pre and postharvest technologies especially those pertaining to achieving the right fruit maturity at harvest, avoiding mechanical injuries, ensuring steps to meet “layer of protection” for food safety and achieve high fruit quality;
5. Prepare suitable educational materials and/or training modules for DF growers in each country. This can be in the form of simple brochures, leaflets, pamphlets, comics, videos, etc.; and
6. Continue to develop the research and development aspect of dragon fruits in the whole value chain.
Steering committee meeting
On the other hand, the dragon fruit steering committee meeting was held in the afternoon of the second day. This was attended by all the five steering committee members and speakers, together with some local participants and observers. The meeting basically aimed at forming and mobilizing the dragon fruit network. It was chaired by Dr. Bob Fullerton of the New Zealand Plant and Food Research Institute and had FFTC Director Dr. Lin delivered an inspiring message to the whole group, motivating and encouraging everyone to take part in the building of a promising network of dragon fruit experts. True enough, four groups were formed, each one with its own set of leaders and members: 1) breeding; germplasm exchange and production; 2)postharvest handling;3) plant protection and 4)marketing.
The third day had the speakers and participants go on an educational trip where they visited two dragon fruit orchards and packing houses.
Speakers and participants of the FFTC-VAAS-SOFRI International workshop on “Dragon Fruit Network: Marketing and the Whole Value Chain and Steering Committee Meeting” had 13 speakers plus 5 steering committee members from 10 countries (Cambodia, India, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and United States).
FFTC Director Dr. Kuo-Ching Lin, Dr. Robert Paull, keynote speaker from Hawaii University and Dr. Nguyen Hong Son, President of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
The DF steering committee meeting is basically aimed at forming and mobilizing the dragon fruit network. It is chaired by Dr. Bob Fullerton of the New Zealand Plant and Food Research Institute. FFTC Director Dr. Kuo-Ching Lin delivers an inspiring message to the whole group, motivating and encouraging everyone to take part in the building of a promising network of dragon fruit experts.
At the Tam Vu Cooperative located in Long An province, speakers and participants observe the real operations of a dragon fruit packing house with grading, sorting, cool storage and packing facilities.