Despite being a new fruit in Kenya, dragon fruit is a high-value crop that farmers in different parts of the country are investing in. Its demand has been soaring in the local and export markets. Currently, it’s the most expensive fruit in the country, with a price for a kilo ranging from Ksh 800 to 1,500. The high prices have been due to its nutrients, health benefits, and low supply against the rising demand. Considering that supermarkets in Kenya import the fruit, increasing local production can present an excellent opportunity to Kenyan farmers.
In addition, there has been a growing interest in new varieties and highly nutritious exotic fruits in European consumers. With their many health benefits, dragon fruits have a high growth potential in the export markets.
Before investing in the fruit, you need to understand the ecological conditions, where to get certified seedlings, orchard management practices, and the marketing channels. This way, you will easily achieve optimum production and penetrate the local and export markets.
Marketing Channels for Dragon Fruits
A considerable shift of preference towards healthy foods is propelling the growth in demand for exotic fruits. They contain many crucial fibers and nutrients, help improve the immune system, and reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases. The increasing number of vegan consumers is also fueling the growth of the dragon fruit market.
So, where can you sell your fruits?
There is a large market base for dragon fruits, both locally and in the export market. In Kenya, supermarkets, hotels, and open-air markets provide the best markets for the produce. In Europe, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and France provide the best opportunities for dragon fruit growers and exporters. Although the consumption is higher in Southern Europe, your best export areas to target should be in Northern Europe, where production is relatively low. Other markets that can be great to target include China, Japan, Malaysia, and the United States. The best time to supply these fruits is during specific holidays such as Easter, Ramadan, and Christmas.
August and September are the peak months for most dragon fruits, and the main season runs during the summer months (June to September).
Post-harvesting and usage of Dragon fruits for value addition
Since the fruit stops ripening once harvested, dragon fruit is not highly perishable like strawberries. It can last up to 18 days without any refrigeration. However, to increase its shelf life and market price, farmers are urged to consider using them for value addition. Almost all parts of a dragon fruit plant are consumable and used extensively in value addition. For instance, peels, flowers, and roots are used to make herbal tea, dyes, and natural food coolants. Besides, its stem soap is used to make smoothies, yogurt, juice, and as a wine ingredient.
The fruits can either be consumed whole or used as cake toppings, salads, and in making beverages. Also, the fruit is used in bakeries, confectionery, sauce, and jams. Dragon fruits can be used in processed products such as jelly, juice, fruit bars, yogurt, pulp, pastries and marmalade preserves.
Import value of exotics increases
The import market value for exotic fruits increases each year in Europe, showing significant growth. For instance, according to CBI, the import value for passion fruit, dragon fruit, and fresh lychees increased by close to 40% in the past 5 years. A growth of close to 21% has been experienced in other crops such as pomegranates.
Why not venture into dragon fruit farming and enjoy the high prices of the fruits?
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