Malaysian durian harvest severely hit by rainy weather


PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s durian harvest is set to be severely hampered this year due to continuous rainy conditions, frustrating local suppliers’ plans to meet rising demand including from overseas markets like China.

The Straits Times (ST) reported today that wet weather has made it hard for durian trees to bear flowers as they need dry conditions for at least a month to do so.

It said orchards are hence seeing a drop of up to 90% in their durian yields, with plantations that usually have two annual seasons, from July to August and October to November, likely to see only one fruitful period this year.

It cited a durian orchard owner in Penang, Chang Teik Seng, as saying that even use of chemical fertilisers would not improve the situation.

“Chemicals only induce flowering but when heavy rain hits, the flowers would still drop,” he was quoted as saying.

“Organic farms ensure (that) trees are healthier, so it can bear more fruit,” he added.

Tham Siew Kean, whose durian farm in Penang has reportedly had a 90% drop in harvest this year, was cited as stressing that commercial farms resorting to chemicals cannot win against the weather.

“The Chinese have a saying: we have to look to the heavens. If we’re lucky, we’ll get more durians,” she was quoted as saying.

The report also said prices have soared, with the popular Musang King durian, also known as Mao Shan Wang, selling at a record price of RM100 per kg.

On May 12, Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) director-general Ahmad Ishak said that the agency had no power to control and set the ceiling price for the Musang King.

He said this was because the fruit was not on the list of controlled items, especially during certain seasons.

As such, he said Fama could only adopt the Grading, Packaging and Labelling Regulations 2008 on matters relating to the fruit.

“Under the regulations, the seller must put on display the price, grade and source country of the fruit to make it easier for buyers to learn the features of the Musang King durian,” he had said.

The ST report today said Malaysia had recorded durian production of 400,000 tonnes in 2015.

Citing data from United Nations Commodity Trade, it added that the country exported over 19,000 tonnes of durians, mostly to Singapore, last year.