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NMC-CREES eyes tropical fruits for tourists

TO cater to tourists, Northern Marianas College-Cooperative Research Extension and Education Service is conducting research on the propagation of tropical fruits that are not yet available locally.

NMC-CREES Director Ross Manglona, who was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club meeting at the Hyatt yesterday, said they are introducing varieties of citrus which can be a potential profit making endeavor in the CNMI.
“Citrus thrives in the Marianas and by venturing into newer varieties, we hope that we can cater to the tourism sector,” Manglona said.
Focusing on tropical fruits rather than on vegetables is ideal because tourists don’t have the facilities to cook vegetables.
“Why not focus on tropical fruits that can be eaten simply by slicing them, peeling them or eating them as is?” Manglona said.
He said they are looking at one more year of research before they can move on to mass propagation.
According to Manglona, the research division of NMC-CREES is working on other projects, including the possibility of propagating and vending grouper, which cost $50 per pound (live) in the Asian market.
“With just about three hours flying distance, we can cater to these markets,” he added.
NMC-CREES hopes the research on grouper will create a new business opportunity for local farmers.
Research is also being conducted  on suppressing a microscopic organisms known as nematodes which Manglona said are preventing the Northern Marianas from having a viable carrot production.
On Rota, NMC-CREES is  testing tissue-cultured root crop varieties.
“By having tissue-cultured specimens available to farmers, we are guaranteeing that they have disease-free plants, thus increasing their chances of having good crops instead of just letting chance play its role,” Manglona said.
CREES is the Land Grant arm of NMC which receives funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct research and extension activities.