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Home>News Articles>Agricultural News in Asia in 2015>Pitaya Takes Center Stage in Kaoshiung Workshop this September
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 June 03 2015

The tropical fruit plant pitaya, or better known as dragon fruit, (Hylocereus spp. and Selenicereus spp.)  has lately been gaining popularity because of its many health benefits. Experts say it contains a lot of fiber, is a wonderful antioxidant, fights diabetes, reduces signs of aging, etc.  Farmers and agriculturists are now seriously studying the science and business of producing and marketing this climbing-vine cactus species which is native to the tropical forest regions of Mexico and Central and South America.
 
Over the past two decades, pitaya has also gained popularity among producers, exporters and consumers in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam where agro-environmental conditions are conducive for growing this fruit plant. In Vietnam alone, its cultivation area is reaching nearly 30,000 hectares with 640,000 tons of fruit products in 2013. And several factors are accountable for the popularity of this crop: 1) high net returns; 2) functional properties because of its high level of antioxidants; and 3) emerging export potential to high-value markets in developed countries due to its uniqueness and health benefits. Pitaya also shows certain agronomic features that improve its potential as a replacement crop with high commercial value. These characteristics include: 1) the relative ease of propagation by cuttings; 2) its relatively low crop maintenance; 3) the short turnaround time between planting and harvesting compared to other tropical fruit trees; 4) its high yield rate; and 5) as a perennial crop, with proper care, it can provide a steady income.
 
But many factors limit the production and business growth of Pitaya. Heavy rainfall or poor crop management practices can cause flowers to drop, and the fruit to split or rot. Apart from limiting the pitaya crop to reach its yield potential, prevailing poor production technologies also lead to serious occurrences of diseases and pests. Currently, anthracnose, stem canker, brown stem spots, and fruit rot are prevalent in major pitaya growing areas in the Asian-Pacific region. And the emerging infectious stem canker has recently caused collapses of many pitaya orchards in Southeast Asia. The implementation of integrated crop management systems including the use of healthy planting materials can improve yield and quality, forcing culture techniques extend the harvest season, and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), which involve a systematic, stepwise on-farm operation, assure fruit product safety and quality that will benefit both farmers and consumers.
 
It is in this light that on September 6-9, FFTC, together with the Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), and the Southern Horticultural Research Institute (SOFRI) in Vietnam join hands to organize a workshop to share the latest advances in understanding the constraints limiting pitaya production and marketing as well as newly-developed doable technologies such as optimal spacing, trellising, disease diagnosis, integrated pest management, pruning, phenology manipulation, and GAP that increase pitaya productivity, safety and marketability.
 
The workshop will be held at the Fengshan Tropical Horticultural Experiment Branch of Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
 
Below are the other details of the said workshop:
 
Workshop Objectives:
 
1)        To contribute to the improvement in pitaya productivity, safety and marketability
2)        To share the current state of pitaya research
3)        To identify areas for collaboration in research and exchange of plant materials
 
Workshop Activities:
The workshop will include theme papers, country reports, and field study tour.               
 
September 6 (Sunday): Arrival of overseas participants
September 7 (Monday): Opening session, oral presentations
September 8 (Tuesday): Oral presentations, wrap-discussion, closing session
September 9 (Wednesday): Field study tour
September 10 (Thursday): Departure of overseas participants 
 
Theme Papers:
Thirty one years of research and development on pitaya cultivation in Israel
Dr. Yosef Mizrahi, Emeritus Professor, Department of Life Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel 
 
Pitaya breeding strategies for improving commercial potential in Taiwan
Dr. Chung-Ruey Yen, Vice President, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, and Ms. Pi-Chuan Liou, Department of Tropical Fruit Trees, Fengshan Tropical Horticultural Experiment Branch, TARI, Taiwan
 
Fungal diseases of pitaya in Malaysia
Dr. Masratul Hawa Mohd, Senior Lecturer, Department of Plant Pathology, School of Biological Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia
 
Management strategies of major pitaya diseases in Vietnam
Dr. Nguyen Thanh Hieu, Researcher, Southern Horticultural Research Institute, Vietnam
 
Identification and management of pitaya stem canker and soft rot in Taiwan
Ms. Chu-Ping Lin, Assistant Researcher, Plant Pathology Division, Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, Taiwan
 
Viral diseases of pitaya and other Cactaceae plants
Dr. Ya-Chun Chang, Professor and Head, Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
 
Control of pitaya insect pests in Vietnam for export markets
Dr. Le Quoc Dien, Researcher, Southern Horticultural Research Institute, Vietnam
 
Pitaya reproductive phenology in relation to production system
Dr. Wendy Wen-Ju Yang, Associate Professor, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, National Taiwan University, Taiwan
 
Innovative forcing culture techniques for off-season pitaya production
Dr. Yi-Lu Jiang, Assistant Professor, Department of Horticulture, National Chiayi University, Taiwan
 
Development and implementation of GAP on pitaya in Vietnam: Status and challenges
Dr. Nguyen Van Hoa, Director General, Southern Horticultural Research Institute, Vietnam
 
Value chain initiatives for pitaya market development
Dr. John Campbell, Consultant, “Development of Safe, Quality, Horticulture”, New Zealand
 
Registration:
Registration website: http://a.fftc.org.tw/survey/survey.php?sur_id=20150605144945
Further information or inquiries please contact with:
Carissa Huang, Workshop Secretary
Phone: (+886)-2-2362-6239 ext. 19
Fax: (+886)-2-2362-0478
E-mail: phhuang2@gmail.com
 
Registration Fee:
Free
 
Abstract Contribution:
Abstract contributions are welcome on subjects within the scope of the workshop. Abstracts should be submitted, by 10 July 2015, via e-mail to Ms. Carissa Huang. The one-page abstract should be typed single-spaced (12 pt Times New Roman font or equivalent, 2.5 cm margins, page size A4; size max 1024 kb) and should include the title, authors, their affiliations and addresses.
 
Hotel Accommodation:
Accommodation at the Garden Villa (http://www.gardenvilla.com.tw) can be arranged upon requested. The standard single-bed room is US$60/night.
 
Local Transportation:
Pick-up service at Kaohsiung International Airport or Zuoying Station of Taiwan High Speed Rail, and shuttle service between the Garden Villa and the workshop venue will be provided. All other travel guidelines to or within Taiwan will be given later.
 
 
The FFTC-TARI-SOFRI workshop on the production and marketing of pitaya or dragon fruit will be held at the Fengshan Tropical Horticultural Experiment Branch of Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
 
Pitaya or dragon fruit production and marketing will be the focus of the Kaoshiung workshop this September. This tropical fruit is gaining popularity in the Asian Pacific region because of its many health benefits and exotic and delicious taste.