Improve dragon fruit production in the Northern Marianas Island through hands-on student education

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2019: $14,900.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G242-19-W7501
Grant Recipient: CNMI Public School System
Region: Western
State: Northern Mariana Islands
Principal Investigator:
Francis Mendiola
CNMI Public School System


  • Fruits: Dragon Fruit
  • Miscellaneous: Fruit.- Dragon Fruit


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, beekeeping, drainage systems, drought tolerance, fertilizers, food processing, food product quality/safety, irrigation, pollination, water storage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, participatory research, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution, farm-to-restaurant, farmers' markets/farm stands, market study
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, dryland farming
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, employment opportunities, quality of life

    Proposal summary:

    Title: Improve dragon fruit production in the Northern Marianas Island through hands-on student education

    Saipan has a growing tourist economy that increased by 21% this past year. However, only several thousand acres are currently farmed compared to the almost 40,000 farmed before WWII, so most of the food is imported. The few farmers that are producing dragon fruit say it is easy to sell and they could sell more if they could produce more.

    This proposal will enhance the quality of science education at Koblerville Elementary School. Adding dragon fruit production to the Koblerville school farm will Increase student income that can be used for educational activities. Also, students will share information with families and relatives who can also choose to be part-time farmers, or make it a full-time activity.

    Benefits and impacts to agriculture: Students will learn science concepts as they grow, observe and experiment with growing dragon fruit. The money produced will benefit the school and students by providing other educational opportunities, and the students will be learning business management in the process. The Koblerville farming activities have been ongoing for more than ten (10) years with Francis Mendiola in charge of the project. He works with other teachers interested in using the farm for their own instruction and activities. Students work on the farm during science class time and after-school and Saturdays. The students can take food home for their families, or sell it. Products sold at the school go to the student leaders (STUCO) account that is used for school related activities such as sports, school beautification, and field trips.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1:The Koblerville Elementary School students will conduct experiments following the scientific method with 60 plots divided into three (3) main experiments of 20 plots each: lighting, planting/growing design, and hydration. Each of the three main experimental designs will include  additional experiments such as variety of dragon fruit, trellis design, and different soil and fertilizer combinations. The 60 plots will be identified and marked out by October of 2019, and the cuttings will be growing in the experimental designated plots by December 31st of the project's first year.


    2: 200 Koblerville Elementary Students will demonstrate increased understanding of business and marketing skills by selling dragon fruit for $1,000 the second year, and $6500 the third year. Marketing outreach will be demonstrated by the distribution of 650 fliers and 50 posters each year of the project. The project facebook page will have 200 followers and the project web page will have an average of 500 visits per month by the end of the projects 2nd year.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.