PETALING JAYA: More farmers have been urged to plant durian trees to meet the high demand once the fruit is exported to China.
Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Chua Tee Yong said the prospect for the industry was very good as Malaysian durian was expected to be in high demand there compared with Thai durian.
He said many durian farmers had pulled out of the industry in the past few years due to poor distribution channels and low demand.
"Many farmers are worried that there will be a glut in durian supply and that they will have to slash prices badly just like in the past,” he said.
In 2005, he said the areas that were able to produce durians were 63,000ha with 48,000 farmers working in the industry but the figures had dropped to 55,000ha and 45,000 farmers.
However, he said, the numbers started picking up again last year after the distribution channels were improved.
“There has also been aggressive promotion in Singapore since last year, where there is a great demand for the fruit. With more farmers planting durian trees, there will be more supply of the fruit, which will help to stabilise prices,” he added.
On the export of the fruit to China, Chua said that only companies which could comply with the requirements stipulated by the Chinese authorities would be allowed to do so.
Malaysian Fruit Farmers Association vice-president Datuk Yap Pit Kian said Malaysian durians were expected to overtake Thai durians in the Chinese market as they taste much better.
He said this was because Malaysian durians were allowed to ripen naturally on the tree while Thai durians were harvested before they mature and this affected their taste.
“That is why we foresee that the prices will go up as it will be difficult for Malaysian farmers to meet the high demand,” he said.
Currently, he said the retail price for popular and good quality durian like Musang King was RM25 per kilo while others like D24 were selling for about RM20 per kilo.
Ordinary kampung durians cost between RM10 and RM15 per kilo, he added.