In June 2021, India exported its first consignment of dragon fruit from a farmer of Maharashtra to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
- The dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus) is indigenous to the Americas. It is a member of the cacti family.
- It is also known as ‘Pitaya’, ‘Pitahaya’, strawberry pear, noblewoman and queen of the night throughout the world. In India, it is also known as ‘Kamalam’.
- It is hardy and grows in diverse climatic conditions with varied soils, especially in the semi-arid and arid regions of India.
- It prefers slightly acidic soil and can tolerate some salts in soil too.
- Flowering and fruiting of dragon fruits coincide with the monsoon season in India (June to November).
- Its flowers are hermaphrodites (male and female organs in the same flower) in nature and open at night.
- The plant sustains yield for more than 20 years, is high in nutraceutical properties (having medicinal effects) and good for value-added processing industries.
- It is a rich source of vitamins and minerals.
- The dragon fruit was introduced to home gardens in India in the 1990s.
- The low maintenance and high profitability of dragon fruits has attracted the farming community throughout India.
- This has led to a steep increase in dragon fruit cultivation in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Gujarat and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as well as in many north eastern states.
- The country produces approximately 12,000 tonnes of the fruit every year.