‘UNLEASH THE DRAGONS’: Guimaras mounts first Dragon Fruit Festival

Francis E. Gentoral, Special Operations Officer under the Office of the Governor; NJST Farm Owner Bonifacio Tespoer, GATFOOA President Engr. Edmon F. Mella, Guimaras Governor JC Rahman A. Nava, Provincial Economic Development Officer Angeles E. Gabinete, and Provincial Agriculture Officer Alvin L. Nava answer questions from the press on Monday, Sept 19, 2022, regarding the 1st Dragon Fruit Festival in Guimaras on Sept 29 to 30.

By John Noel E. Herrera

The province of Guimaras aims to prove that it is more than just mangoes as the province is set to stage the first Dragon Fruit Festival dubbed “Dragon Fruit Festival: A Fresh Experience” on Sept 29 to 30, 2022.

In partnership with Guimaras Agri-Tourism, Farmers, Owners, Operators Association (GAFOOA), the festival is in line with the celebration of National Tourism Month and will be held at the Provincial Capitol Grounds in San Miguel, Jordan, Guimaras.

It primarily seeks to strengthen the province’s campaign to be an agri-fishery and eco-tourism hub not just in Western Visayas, but in the whole country.

The other goals of the festival include creating support for the local farmers and dragon fruit growers and hasten the recovery of the local economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor JC Rahman Nava said in a press conference on Monday, Sept 19, 2022, that dragon fruit is a potential agricultural product of the province. The festival will also become a way to introduce the fruit and its benefits to the public.

Nava also said that the fruit fits well with the provincial government’s goal of converging agriculture, environment, fishery, and tourism as economic drivers of Guimaras.

“The potential to propagate this more in Guimaras is there as the market potential is also there as we want dragon fruits to be as popular as mangoes here in the province also. We are not big producers of mangoes but we produce quality ones and that is what we also hope for the dragon fruits,” Nava added.

Based on data from Guimaras Agriculture Office, the total land area devoted to dragon fruit is 17 hectares cultivated by 36 dragon fruit growers.

Provincial agriculturist Alvin Nava said the province was able to produce 12 metric tons or around 12,000 kilos of dragon fruit last year and they expect to exceed it this year.

Meanwhile, Bonifacio Tespoer, one of the largest producers of dragon fruit in Guimaras, said the fruit is a good investment as they can harvest it six months in a year.

Tespoer also said that the festival will teach the farmers and the public the techniques on how to make different by-products out of the fruit, and the benefits they can get out of it.

Guimaras will allot around one metric ton of dragon fruits during the festival that will be displayed and sold during the two-day event.

The festival will also feature a Bike Caravan that will serve as the opening salvo of the celebration on Sept. 29, while the “Dragon Fruit Classroom” will provide the public with information and knowledge about the fruit.

A trade fair will showcase dragon fruit products, while a demonstration of dragon fruit cuisine dubbed Dragon Fruit Kitchen will be conducted by a Kulinarya chef from the Department of Tourism (DOT).

A job fair will also be held to provide an avenue for employers who are looking for manpower and will offer employment to job seekers in the province.

Gov. Nava also emphasized their tagline, “Guimaras is mangoes and more” as the province is set to prove that they are more than just the sweet mangoes.