With growers get to grips with production methods and market demand grows, dragon fruit production is gaining ground in South Africa. While the area planted to dragon fruit is expanding, producers have had to grapple with a lack of information on production methods suited to South Africa’s climate, as well as newer varieties. Pest control in particular is challenge, as no pest-control chemicals are registered for use on the crop locally.
According to Fred Steyn, chairperson of the Southern African Dragon Fruit Association, this was one of the issues that the newly formed association was trying to address: “There was a lot of rain this year and some producers really struggled to keep fungi under control. Dragon fruit needs to be produced organically, which isn’t easy considering that it’s a new product being cultivated in South Africa and there are many unknowns. The association has employed an agriculturalist to assist with production research.”