Nicaragua to start exporting pitahaya to US

Ripe for Export: U.S. Ambassador Phyllis Powers and MAGFOR Minister Ariel Bucardo examine pitahaya (photo/ US Embassy)

Nicaragua will soon become the first Central American country to start exporting pitahaya—or dragon fruit—to the United States, thanks to an agreement signed this week between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Nicaragua’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAGFOR).

Before Nicaragua can start exporting the fruit to the U.S. market, the USDA and Nicaraguan authorities need to elaborate a best-agricultural practices program to train pitahaya producers how to pack the fruit to meet export requirements and how to treat the crop for fruit flies.   

At a ceremony on Monday, U.S. Ambassador Phyllis Powers said that the implementation of the pitahaya-export program is one of the new commercial opportunities provided by the U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

Nicaragua is the largest producer of pitahaya in Central America, growing more than 6,160 tons of the fruit each year, according to government statistics. The U.S. estimates that once the pitahaya-export program is fully operational, Nicaraguan producers will be able to export 20% of their annual harvest to the United States.