The Inbox

The Dragon Fruit Lady shares her blessing

Harvesting dragon fruits Photo by Lei Adriano

By Leilanie Adriano, VERA Files

When Edita Aguinaldo-Dacuycuy first held a dragon fruit, it was for a cure of her daughter Kate, who is afflicted with cerebral palsy.

Never did she imagine that the scaly bright pink fruit  that reminded some of a dragon would also bring her fortune and honor.

Last May 23, the 66-year-old mother of four was in Malacanang to receive her presidential award as this year's most outstanding high-value commercial crop farmer. The award came with P100,000 prize.

Edita Dacuycuy, the Dragon Fruit Lady" in Malacanang. Photo by Lei Adriano"We only thought of the benefit of the dragon fruit, which we have proven effective to our daughter Kate," said the former manager of an insurance company and a graduate of Psychology at the University of the Philippines in Dalian, Quezon City

Dacuycuy said her first dragon fruit came from a friend who came from Macau who has heard of the fruit as good for those suffering from frequent constipation problem, common among cerebral palsy patients.

After seeing the dragon fruit doing wonders for  Kate's bowel movement problems, the Dacuycuy family planted the vine orchid cactus in their backyard in Poblacion 2, Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte about six years ago.

She recalled that when asked by neighbors what they were doing, they never told them they were planting dragon fruit.

"We were not sure then if what we were planting would really bear fruit," Dacuycuy said. "Others may laugh at us once they know that what we were doing is simply a trial and error."

The internet served as Dacuycuy's main library. She learned that the exotic dragon fruit is rich in fiber that helps in the elimination of wastes. It contains high levels of vitamin C, calcium and phosphorous, including other nutritional benefits such as high levels of antioxidants that can help prevent cancer, high blood pressure, rheumatism and urinary tract infection.

She then sent her daughter to meet with international dragon fruit growers in Thailand to learn how to cultivate dragon fruit.  Dragon fruit is popularly known in South America. It is also being cultivated in Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan.

It gave the whole family so much joy  when the cactus vine started flowering and bearing fruits. It inspired them to plant more dragon fruits.

But before they went large-scale, they first consulted agriculture experts from the Department of Agriculture and other government research agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology and the Mariano Marcos State University.

Now, the Dacuycuy-owned REFMAD Farms in barangay Paayas, Burgos, Ilocos Norte, the first organic dragon fruit plantation in northern Philippines owned  has expanded to about 10 hectares and is still expanding.

In 2009, REFMAD Farms posted a total net income of more than P21 million from dragon fruit production, both from the sale of  fresh fruits and planting materials, processed food products (e.g., dragon fruit ice cream, shanghai, macaroons, cookies,  red wine, jam, cake, burger patties, etc.. It is also into tomato and papaya production.

Dacuycuy is also into organic fertilizer production.

At the farm, the hands-on dragon lady farmer observes zero-waste management farming. She makes sure that all farm wastes are turned into organic fertilizer. This is done with vermiculture technology in which she maintains a more than 30-kilo African night crawler to produce organic fertilizer that ensures sustainable growth of the dragon fruit cactus.

To maximize the potentials of dragon fruit as the vine of life, Dacuycuy envisions to build a dragon fruit plant winery which would require about 50 or more hectares of dragon fruit plantation.

Towards this goal, she has initiated the formation of the Association of Dragon Fruit Growers of the Philippines where she readily shares her technology and assists interested growers to engage in dragon fruit farming.

Every year, the family is giving out free dragon fruit saplings for their visitors and neighbors who go to their farm.

"We hope that every home will have a dragon fruit plant in their backyard even just for their family consumption because it is really a good fruit," she said.

Right now, the REFMAD Farms assists other farm-cooperators setting up other dragon fruit plantations in neighboring provinces like Cagayan, Isabela, and Ilocos Sur.

Dacuycuy said there are only few countries cultivating dragon fruit and the Philippines is lucky to have a tropical weather that is suitable for it even in this time of climate change.

"We started this for the good of our special daughter and we want to share this success to everyone," the dragon fruit lady beamed with a smile.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")

  • Happy Earth Day! The 8 Biggest Mysteries of Our Planet
    Happy Earth Day! The 8 Biggest Mysteries of Our Planet

    When the first Earth Day was held in 1970, geologists were still putting the finishing touches on plate tectonics, the model that explains how the Earth's surface takes shape. For today's Earth day, here are some of Earth's biggest unsolved mysteries. Scientists think Earth was a dry rock after it coalesced 4.5 billion years ago. But the beginnings of Earth's water are shrouded in mystery because so little rock evidence remains from this time period. …

  • Angel calls birthday boy Luis ‘amazing’
    Angel calls birthday boy Luis ‘amazing’

    [caption id="attachment_130927" align="alignright" width="300"] Angel Locsin and Luis Manzano (Instagram)[/caption] Angel Locsin is extra sweet to boyfriend Luis Manzano today, with the latter commemorating his 33rd birthday. The actress authorized Sagip Kapamilya Foundation to auction the 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle, which is her dream car. …

  • Miss America defends student suspended for asking her to prom
    Miss America defends student suspended for asking her to prom

    By Chris Francescani NEW YORK (Reuters) - Miss America has suggested officials at a Pennsylvania high school reconsider their decision to suspend a student for approaching her at a school assembly and asking her to be his prom date, the beauty queen said on Saturday. The disciplinary action taken by school administrators in York against the 18-year-old senior made national headlines, and generated sympathy for the young man on social media. A video of Central York High School senior Patrick …

  • U.S. Embassy in Manila denies report of visa-free U.S. entry for Filip …
    U.S. Embassy in Manila denies report of visa-free U.S. entry for Filip …

    Don’t fall for rumors that Filipinos may now visit the United States without a visa, U.S. embassy in Manila told the public Wednesday. …

  • Vatican dismisses criticism of John Paul II over abuses
    Vatican dismisses criticism of John Paul II over abuses

    The Vatican on Tuesday brushed off accusations that late pope John Paul II was aware of and ignored allegations about sexual abuse carried by the Mexican founder of a powerful Catholic movement. "There is no personal implication of the Holy Father in this affair," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told a news conference on Sunday's ceremony to confer sainthood on popes John Paul II and John XXIII. The scandal over Marcial Maciel, who founded the Legion of Christ and was a serial predator, …

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Happy Earth Day! The 8 Biggest Mysteries of Our Planet

    Happy Earth Day! The 8 Biggest Mysteries of Our Planet

    LiveScience.com - Tue, Apr 22, 2014
    Happy Earth Day! The 8 Biggest Mysteries of Our Planet

    When the first Earth Day was held in 1970, geologists were still putting the finishing touches on plate tectonics, the model that explains how the Earth's surface takes shape. For today's Earth day, here are some of Earth's biggest unsolved mysteries. Scientists think Earth was a dry rock after it coalesced 4.5 billion years ago. But the beginnings of Earth's water are shrouded in mystery because so little rock evidence remains from this time period. …

  • Sriracha hot sauce makers head for next showdown in California

    Sriracha hot sauce makers head for next showdown in California

    Reuters - 1 hour 23 minutes ago
    Sriracha hot sauce makers head for next showdown in California

    By Steve Gorman LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Southern California makers of the popular Sriracha brand of hot sauce faced another potential showdown on Wednesday with the city of Irwindale over a peppery smell emitted from the company's chili-processing factory in town. The city council was expected to vote on a resolution formally declaring the factory a public nuisance unless the sides reach an agreement to resolve resident complaints of tear-inducing fumes from the plant. City officials and …

  • David Moyes statement after Man United firing

    David Moyes statement after Man United firing

    Associated Press - 4 hours ago
    David Moyes statement after Man United firing

    Statement released by David Moyes on Wednesday, a day after Manchester United announced he left as manager after less than a season in charge. …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options