Malaysia is ready to go big on its durian export. The government is encouraging large-scale farming of durian, base on a projected 50 per cent increase in export sales by 2030. The strong and consistent demand for the king of fruits is coming from China.
“The durian industry is transforming from local to global, large-scale farming due to the great demand from China,” said Lim Chin Khee, a durian industry consultant. “Before the boom, a durian farm in Malaysia would be a leisure farm … Now they are hundreds of acres and bigger, and many more will come.”
Its pungent smell has been the reason for its ban in a few airports, public transport and hotels in many parts of Southeast Asia but will not sway hard-core Chinese fans. In China, durian flavoured foods are becoming more varied with current offerings include pizza, butter, salad dressing and milk.
According to the United Nation’s trade database, China’s durian imports rose 15 per cent last year to nearly 350,000 tonnes worth US$510 million. Malaysia accounted for less than 1 per cent, but expects sales to China to jump to 22,061 tonnes by 2030 from this year’s likely 14,600 tonnes, as trade is widened to include whole fruit from the current restriction to durian pulp and paste. Currently, Thailand is the world’s top producer and exporter of durian and takes nearly 40% of the China market share.
Malaysia’s durian plantations covered 72,000 hectares last year, but the area under cultivation is growing, the department said, and in some areas, plantations growing palm oil are switching to durian because it is seen as more lucrative.
Earlier in March, Malaysia’s then-agriculture minister was quoted as saying one hectare of Musang King could yield nearly nine times more revenue than a hectare of palm plantation.
Durian is now touted as the new ‘gold’ in the agricultural industry, getting top dollar for premium grade like the Musang King variety.
The increase in large-scale durian farming however, has raised environmental concerns as massive land that will be cleared for this purpose will affect species-rich areas in Malaysia.
Source: Reuters, NST
Photo: Jonny Clow/Unsplash