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Regional workshop on dragon fruit diseases yields promising results

There were two clear points emphasized in last year’s workshop on “Improving Pitaya Production and Marketing.” First, there is no doubt that pitaya or dragon fruit (Hylocereus spp. and Selenicereus spp.) is the new rising star in Asia’s long list of tropical fruits. It is already being marketed in 20 countries and continues to be popular especially with the discovery of its many health benefits—from being a super antioxidant to containing phytonutrients.  Second, while many people in the Asia Pacific region are joining the bandwagon and have started to grow pitaya, diseases like anthracnose, stem canker, brown stem spots and fruit rot are becoming prevalent in many pitaya growing areas. Pesticide cocktails that are being used in various countries in the region are often found to be ineffective and expensive for small-scale farmers. 

Latest knowledge

One of the recommendations in the said workshop is to form a regional network to develop effective Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for pitaya that will integrate the latest knowledge of diseases and pests, diagnosis and surveillance of pathogens and pests, durable crop resistance, rationale pesticide use, biological controls, use of healthy planting materials, and cultural practices. An effective  (IPM) could be the first important step of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), which involve systematic, stepwise on-farm operation, to assure fruit product safety and quality that will benefit farmers, consumers and export markets.

As a take-off point from the aforementioned recommendation, last September 4-8, a “Regional Workshop on the Control of Dragon Fruit Diseases” was conducted in Kho Kaen, Thailand. FFTC, together with its new partners, the Mekong Institute, New Zealand Plant and Food Research and the International Tropical Fruits Network, brought together key researchers as well as dragon fruit growers from different countries as they exchanged information on their own experiences of dragon fruit diseases. The 30 speakers and observers who graced the regional workers were members of the public and private sectors from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Major findings and recommendations

Based on the discussions, the following themes were suggested for collaborative R&D: preparation and procurement of healthy planting materials; standardized methodology for canker research (disease rating system, fungicide evaluation, field efficacy and efficiency tests); fungicide knowledge; biological control and natural products; region wide disease control recommendations for extension purpose; and research against emerging and re-emerging pests and diseases.

In terms of follow-up activities, the participants also suggested that there should be preparation of workshop proceedings and proposal for networking and that FFTC and the Mekong Institute should serve as catalysts for regional networking.

To read and download all the papers and power point presentations on the Regional Workshop on the Control of Dragon Fruit Diseases, visit

FFTC’s New Partners

For the Regional Workshop on the “Control of Dragon Fruit Diseases,” FFTC has partnered and forged linkages with the following organizations: 

Mekong Institute

An intergovernmental organization founded by six-member countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region which facilitates human resource development and capacity building to the acceleration of sustainable economic and social development and poverty alleviation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, and to support the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

NZ Plant and Food Research

A Crown Research institute with 900 staff, the institute provides research and innovation to ensure sustainable growth of plant and marine-based industries.

International Tropical Fruits Network (TFNET)

An independent and self-financing global network established under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to promote sustainable global development of the tropical fruit industry.

FFTC Consultant Dr. George Kuo is the overall coordinator and organizer of the workshop.

Thirty speakers and observers from the public and private sectors of Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, new Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam comprise the participants of the “Regional Workshop on the Control of Dragon Fruit Diseases” held in Khon Khaen, Thailand.

FFTC Director Dr. Yu-Tsai Huang (rightmost) discuss technology updates with dragon fruit experts

Workshop speakers and participants share experiences on how to control dragon fruit diseases.

Scientists are studying non-stop ways to control and manage dragon fruit diseases like anthracnose and canker. One of the ways to do it is through the preparation and procurement of healthy planting materials.