Vietnamese growers could soon have their hands-on new varieties of dragon fruit as a result of an aid programme funded by the New Zealand government.
The Vietnam-New Zealand Premium Fruit Variety Development Project began in 2013 with a focus on dragon fruit. The project encompassed a breeding programme and has further developed farming methods, production, post-harvest and commercialisation capabilities, all of which can be applied to other fruit.
New Zealand-based Plant & Food Research has carried out the project in partnership with Vietnam’s Southern Fruit Research Institute and Sub-Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Post-Harvest Technology.
One of the project’s next developments could be a number of new varieties. Michael Lay-Yee, project leader at Plant & Food Research, told Radio New Zealand the breeding programme had pinpointed three dragon fruit varieties almost ready to be grown commercially.
"We have three advanced selections which we are working through checking production yields, quality, post-harvest storage life and we're looking to probably commercialise at least one of those late next year,” Lay-Ye told Radio New Zealand.
"They (growers) are getting very excited now, the potential for them with the new varieties, particularly if we commercialise them carefully... through this controlled production model we should be able to maintain premiums for the fruit, so it doesn't become a commodity."
Progress on the new varieties comes on the back of a workshop held in Ho Chi Minh City in June where New Zealand businesses shared their knowledge in commercialisation, intellectual property protection and branding for high-value fruit, with their Vietnamese counterparts.