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Home>Major Activities>Seminars and Workshops in 2016>Planning Workshop for Establishing a Regional Network on the Integrated Pest Management of Pitaya

Sept. 4-8, 2016
Mittraphap, Thailand
Bob Fullerton, Plant & Food Res. Inst., NZ
Background / Highlights of Activity
In the past two and half decades, pitaya or dragon fruit (Hylocereus spp. and Selenicereus spp.) has gained popularity among producers, and consumers alike in Cambodia, China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 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 near 30,000 hectares with 640,000 ton of fruit products in 2013, involving 35,000 small-scale farmers. 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.

Unfortunately, prevailing crop management practices for pitatya in Southeast Asia are not conducive to high yield potentials. On the contrary, they lead to more serious occurrences of diseases and pests, which are also aggravated by weather extremes caused by climate change. The situation is attested by various reports presented in FFTC's co-organized workshop on "Improving Pitaya Production and Marketing" held in September 2015 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Currently, anthracnose, stem canker, brown stem spots, and fruit rot are prevalent in major pitaya growing areas in the region, and some of them have caused collapses of many pitaya orchards in Southeast Asia. Pesticide cocktails that are being used in various countries in the region to control these emerging infectious diseases often are ineffective and expensive for small-scale farmers. Furthermore, these agricultural chemicals, either registered or not registered, are usually not safe for local markets and agro-environments, and often do not meet compliance with export markets. To overcome these problems, the participants of the aforesaid workshop deem there is a need to form a regional network to develop effective integrated pest management (IPM) strategies for pitaya that integrate the latest knowledge of diseases and pests, diagnosis and surveillance of pathogens and pests, durable crop resistance, rational pesticide use, biological controls, use of healthy planting materials, and cultural practices. This network approach working alongside farmers is particularly important considering a limited resources and capacity in the region to tackle the infectivity of emerging diseases and the rapid spread of pests caused by both human activities and natural processes. And an effective IPM would be the first important step of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), which involve a systematic, stepwise on-farm operation, to assure fruit product safety and quality that will benefit farmers, consumers and export markets.
  • To share the up-to-date progress in the understanding of pitaya diseases and pests, and development of their control measures
  • To discuss the technical and administrative factors that affect the development and adoption of effective IPM strategies
  • To provide a platform for discussion on the establishment of a regional IPM network for collaborative research, extension and capacity building efforts
Expected outputs and outcomes:
  • Proceedings published that would document recent advancements in the understanding of pitaya diseases and pests, and their control measures
  • A regional network for pitaya IPM with the key stakeholders in Southeast Asia formed for collaborative IPM research, extension and capacity building
Proposed workshop activities:
The 3-day workshop will consist of the presentations of resource papers and country reports, forum discussion for the establishment of regional network for pitaya IPM, as well as field visits. Two country representatives each, one pitaya protection technical expert and one decision-maker in agricultural R&D, from ASEAN member countries with significant pitaya production, as well as one representative from the ASEAN Secretariat involving AMAF affairs will be invited. The invited resource speakers and their topics will be based on the recommendations from the expected partners.

Highlights of Regional Workshop on the Control of Dragon Fruit Diseases