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From construction to dragon fruit farming in Taiwan

  • ARCHITECT-TURNED DRAGON FRUIT FARMER - In 2011, Xie Xinke, a 51-year-old architect, gave up his construction business to go into full-time dragon fruit farming in Nantou, Taiwan. He grows dragon fruit on 1.1 hectares which is very productive now. He harvested about 50 tons of the fruit during the last harvest season that he sold for NT$100 per kilo. The NT or New Taiwan dollar is worth R150 in Philippine money. Photo shows Xinke standing on a platform with a panoramic view of his dragon fruit plantation behind him.

    ARCHITECT-TURNED DRAGON FRUIT FARMER - In 2011, Xie Xinke, a 51-year-old architect, gave up his construction business to go into full-time dragon fruit farming in Nantou, Taiwan. He grows dragon fruit on 1.1 hectares which is very productive now. He harvested about 50 tons of the fruit during the last harvest season that he sold for NT$100 per kilo. The NT or New Taiwan dollar is worth R150 in Philippine money. Photo shows Xinke standing on a platform with a panoramic view of his dragon fruit plantation behind him.

  • PREPARING THE FRUITS FOR THE MARKET – Lady workers at the Xinke Dragon Fruit Farm in Nantou, Taiwan, prepare the harvested fruits for the market. The harvest is sold only in the local market at NT$100 per kilo or the equivalent of P150 in Philippine money. During peak season, a fruit picking festival is held where visitors pay NT$100 for which they can pick one fruit and eat it. More than 300 people participated in the last fruit picking festival.

    PREPARING THE FRUITS FOR THE MARKET – Lady workers at the Xinke Dragon Fruit Farm in Nantou, Taiwan, prepare the harvested fruits for the market. The harvest is sold only in the local market at NT$100 per kilo or the equivalent of P150 in Philippine money. During peak season, a fruit picking festival is held where visitors pay NT$100 for which they can pick one fruit and eat it. More than 300 people participated in the last fruit picking festival.

  • IN THE BAG - The fruits are wrapped with durable paper material to protect them from insect damage.

    IN THE BAG - The fruits are wrapped with durable paper material to protect them from insect damage.

  • FARMING IS ENJOYABLE – To Xie Xinke, dragon fruit farming is more enjoyable than the construction business. And dragon fruit farming is also profitable. In the last cropping season, Xinke produced 50 tons worth five million New Taiwan dollars from his 1.1-hectare plantation. He is shown here with a ripe dragon fruit that weighs more than 300 grams.

    FARMING IS ENJOYABLE – To Xie Xinke, dragon fruit farming is more enjoyable than the construction business. And dragon fruit farming is also profitable. In the last cropping season, Xinke produced 50 tons worth five million New Taiwan dollars from his 1.1-hectare plantation. He is shown here with a ripe dragon fruit that weighs more than 300 grams.

  • JANE CHEN holds a ripe fruit while she poses at the Xinke dragon fruit farm. She operates Everbright Travel & Tours whIch has been organizing groups of Filipino journalists and travel agency operators to visit leisure farms in Taiwan. She has also brought other Filipino tourists to visit member-farms of the Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association (TLFDA).

    JANE CHEN holds a ripe fruit while she poses at the Xinke dragon fruit farm. She operates Everbright Travel & Tours whIch has been organizing groups of Filipino journalists and travel agency operators to visit leisure farms in Taiwan. She has also brought other Filipino tourists to visit member-farms of the Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association (TLFDA).

  • FILIPINO DELEGATION – Photo shows some of the members of the Philippine group that visited the dragon fruit farm of Xie Xinke in Nantou, Taiwan. From left: Yaman Sioco, Chona Paredes, Kane Malvin Hui, Allan Sze, Jaison Yang, Eric Cheng, Leia Bartolome and Jude Bacalso. Not in photo are Jane Chen, Jose Lim Letran and Zac B. Sarian.

    FILIPINO DELEGATION – Photo shows some of the members of the Philippine group that visited the dragon fruit farm of Xie Xinke in Nantou, Taiwan. From left: Yaman Sioco, Chona Paredes, Kane Malvin Hui, Allan Sze, Jaison Yang, Eric Cheng, Leia Bartolome and Jude Bacalso. Not in photo are Jane Chen, Jose Lim Letran and Zac B. Sarian.

A 51-year-old architect in Nantou, Taiwan, used to be in the construction business. In 2011, he decided to give up his construction business so he could go into full-time dragon fruit farming.

He is Xie Xinke, owner of Xinke Dragon Fruit Farm. He is very glad he gave up his previous business which could be very taxing at times. Now he is very happy tending his 1.1-hectare dragon fruit farm. His plants which are organically grown are very robust and high-yielding. Last year, he estimates he harvested no less than 50 tons of red-fleshed fruits.

In the most recent season harvesting lasted from June 2015 to March 2016. Usually, the fruiting season lasts only from June to the following November. But the warm winter months of last December to February favored the long harvest period of ten months. Contributing to that was the provision of electric lighting at night.

Mr. Xinke sells his harvest locally at NT$100 per kilo, equivalent to R150 in Philippine money. During peak production, he organizes a fruit picking festival whereby visitors pay NT$100 for the privilege of picking and eating one fruit. If they bring home some, they have to pay NT$100 per kilo. During the last fruit picking festival, some 300 people participated.

Xinke’s dragon fruit plants are organically grown. He uses a lot of organic fertilizers to nourish his plants that are planted on raised beds. They are also regularly irrigated.

On August 3, 2016, Xinke Dragon Fruit Farm was visited by a group of Filipino journalists and travel agents invited by the Taiwan Leisure Farms Development Association. These included Eric Cheng of United Daily News, Jane Chen, Chona Paredes, Jude Bacalso, Leia Bartolome, Kane M. Hui, Jaison Yang, Allan Sze, Yaman Sioco, Jose Lim Letran and your agri editor and blogger, Zac B. Sarian of Manila Bulletin.

Dragon fruit is becoming increasingly popular in Asia not only because it is nice to eat but also because it is nutritious and is considered to have medicinal attributes. It is claimed to be rich in antioxidants and helps in maintaining normal blood pressure and solving other health problems.

In the Philippines, commercial growers are found in Burgos, Ilocos Norte;  Indang, Cavite; Jala-Jala, Rizal; several towns in Pangasinan and other places.

Vietnam is also a big producer of dragon fruit not only for local sales but also for export. In the province of Long An, some 800 hectares are planted to dragon fruit. Also a big producer is Thailand.

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AGRI-BAZAAR CUM AGRI-KAPIHAN – This monthly event held by AANI will be held on August 19 to 21 at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City. The exhibits and discussions in the Agri-Kapihan will give special focus on livestock and poultry.

Commercial booths, however, will also make available planting materials  of exotic fruit trees, herbal and wellness products like Aztec Spirulina, fertilizers, plant growth accelerators, fresh fruits and vegetables, processed farm products and many others.