afrol News, 9 March - Cape Verde authorities have invested large sums to diversify the arid country's agricultural sector. Now, the dragon fruit, originating in tropical America, is being introduced for the first commercial production in Africa.
In Cape Verde, the exotic dragon fruit will probably go under its Brazilian names, pitaya or pitahaya, when the National Institute of Agricultural Research and Development (INIDA) in brief will release the semi-cactus to Cape Verdean cultivators.
INIDA has received over 600,000 euro from the European Union (EU) and the Cape Verdean government to help diversify the archipelago's agricultural output and revitalise banana production. The choice soon fell onto the little known dragon fruit, which already had made its success on banana plantation on the nearby Canary Islands.
The research is now coming to an end, and within brief, INIDA will start to distribute new disease-resistant varieties of bananas, pineapples and mango trees, and the totally new dragon fruit, which combines very well with banana production, especially in the arid climate of Cape Verde.
The dragon fruit, by its appearance, is a cactus native to tropical America. The main producers are Colombia, Mexico and Vietnam, and so far, there is no commercial production of the sweet tropical fruit in any other part of Africa. The large
Dragon fruits are described as "mild, sweet and very refreshing"
-sized fruit is described to have "a mild, sweet flavour and being very refreshing," according to INIDA.
Further, the exotic plant also serves as an ornamental plant, easily grown in gardens and parks - which is an important argument in the tourist destination Cape Verde.
INIDA recommends Cape Verdean cultivators to embrace the new fruit crop, holding it is "high on vitamins and flavour," and easily could be used in the archipelago's Creole cuisine. Further, the plant "adapts easily and well to conditions of water shortage and may further contribute to the diversification of fruit production and income of Cape Verdean farmers," according to the institute.
"The flesh can be consumed fresh and used in the preparation of soft drinks, ice cream, salads, appetisers, yogurt, mousses, jellies and jams," according to INIDA.
The state institute says it has imported a large amount of dragon fruit plants from a major Canary Island producer. So far, they have been planted at INIDA's research plots among bananas and pineapples. The new fruit plant will now be distributed to Cape Verdean cultivators.
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