East Timor farmers participated this week in a seminar on the cultivation of pitaya, or dragon fruit, an alternative to respond to the impact of climate change and help increase the income of producers.
The 2nd National Meeting of Producers of Pitaya, which took place in the village of Loes in Liquiçá, west of Dili, was promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of Timor-Leste, with the support of the Camões Institute, within the framework of activities Program to Support the Global Alliance Against Climate Change (GCCA-TL), which is funded by the European Union.
“With the initiative to promote the cultivation of the pitahaya, we tried to establish a waistline for the production of this fruit [in the zone], trying to attract potential buyers and, thus, increase fruit production in East Timor and the income of families,” explained Hugo Miguel Trindade, general coordinator of the program.
Trindade underlines that the pitaya also helps strengthen the capacity to cope with the effects of climate change in Timor-Leste, one of the countries where this impact is already beginning to be felt.
Pitaya (a term that means squamous fruit) is the fruit of several species of epiphytic cichlids, which live on another, using them as support, but without removing nutrients and without establishing contact with the soil.
The technical coordinator of the program in Liquiçá, Moisés Cruz, explained that the initiative began in that region in 2015, with five pilot plantations, many of which are already at an advanced stage of production.
One of the largest producers in the zone is José Adilson Ribeiro, which already has more than two thousand plants.
“I have 700 posts and in each one of three plants, there are more than two thousand plants and we are selling to supermarkets,” he said.
This week’s meeting included a technical workshop and field visits with the aim of demonstrating techniques for improving and sustaining the cultivation of this fruit in family orchards.
More than 200 people participate, among them, 80 pitaya producers supported by the GCCA, municipal directors of Agriculture of Liquiçá and Ermera, and the respective technical teams, as well as students of agriculture and representatives of some local organizations related to the subject, informed the program in a statement.
The organization of the meeting was attended by two local companies active in the agricultural sector (Britas Lda. And Agropro Corporation Lda.), Which started and have intensified their production of pitahaya, “using own investment, inspired by in the model and cultivation techniques implemented and demonstrated by the GCCA team. ”
More than 75 family farms are already operating in the Loes area.
The activity, according to a statement released by the Camões Institute, “is part of the strategy to support the diversification of agroforestry production through adapted and resilient crops and income creation for local producers, inserted in the river basin of the Loes river”.
The goal is to “provide communities with more resources and consequently greater capacity to deal with the effects of climate change.”
The GCCA is a thematic program of the European Union created in 2007 to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with developing partner countries, in particular, least developed countries (LDCs) and small island states (SIDS).
In Timor-Leste, the program is managed by Camões and GIZ (German cooperation).