BURGOS, Ilocos Norte -- Over a decade since a scaly bright pink fruit that reminded some of a dragon found its way to the Philippines, tons of dragon fruits are now being produced in various parts of the country, giving profitable income and livelihood mostly to Ilocanos in this part of Luzon.

On August 26, the first shipment of more than 600 kilos of Philippines premium dragon fruit landed in Richmond City, British Columbia, Canada, through a fruit and vegetable importer Pahoa Produce Ltd.

While packing the freshly picked fruits in a box produced by the Refmad Farms in Paayas village, Edita Aguinaldo-Dacuycuy, popularly known as a multi-awarded dragon fruit lady of the Philippines for leading the way in advancing dragon fruit production in the country, beams with gladness that finally one of her greatest dreams is now for real.

In Canada, dragon fruit is currently pegged at $7.99 a pound.

“Thank God, we are now in for export. It’s a long journey which we have been waiting for. Now, what we’ve been working hard is a success,” said Edita’s daughter, Mildred, who is acting as the farm’s operations manager.

Mildred said they hope this is now the start of “something big” in the industry to benefit organized dragon fruit growers in the country.

Since 2006, the mother and daughter tandem worked their way to develop the pioneering dragon fruit plantation and resort into what it is now.

Inspired by Edita’s special daughter Kaye with a cerebral palsy, the dragon fruit industry flourished in Ilocos region because of a mother wanting only the best for her children.

Dragon fruit is known for its numerous health benefits — rich source of antioxidants, fiber, Omega 3s and minerals.

One of its famous selling brands is it eases constipation problem — like that of Kaye who is often constipated, a common struggle among persons with cerebral palsy.

With the all out support of inter-government agencies working for the advancement of agriculture in the countryside, the Dacuycuy family found a strong support group of plant hobbyists, farm enthusiasts, scientists, researchers, extension workers and businessmen among others.

Starting as a pocket-size garden planted with barely few cuttings of dragon fruit at the Dacuycuy’s residence in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte, this has grown into over 30-hectare dragon fruit plantation in Burgos town owned by the Dacuycuy family.

Other farmer co-operators and adopters followed suit and the dragon fruit industry gained ground in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao over the past 10 years.

Aside from fresh fruits sold to consumers, other value adding products now comes with dragon fruit ice cream, energy tea, cookies, pandesal, jam, shanghai, wine and soap bars.

Most recently, Refmad Farms has developed its all natural and organic dragon fruit freeze dried extract powder, which can be used for smoothies, teas or foods anytime. (PNA)