Organic fertiliser yields better results

For Mr Goh Meng Chiang, using an organic fertiliser to grow his durian plants has proved to be fruitful because the durians taste better.
For Mr Goh Meng Chiang, using an organic fertiliser to grow his durian plants has proved to be fruitful because the durians taste better.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Pesticide-free Mao Shan Wang durians, anyone?

Mr Goh Meng Chiang, owner of 818 Durians & Pastries in Telok Kurau is creating a buzz with durians grown without pesticides and using organic fertiliser.

He grows them on two plantations he owns in Pahang, Malaysia. Since the durian season started this month, he has harvested more than 500kg of the fruit. He is currently selling it at $22 a kg, though prices fluctuate between $22 and $28 a kg.

The 38-year-old, who has been in the business of selling durians for more than 20 years, has experimented with various types of fertilisers for years, in order to perfect the taste of his durians.

He finally struck gold with an organic fertiliser from Japan, which was introduced to him by his Japanese farmer friends in 2013.

"With the organic fertiliser, the smell and taste of the durian is stronger. The flesh is also smoother and is less fibrous," he says, adding that the fertiliser has produced the best quality of durians so far. He grows only the Mao Shan Wang variety.

He says that the organic fertiliser is a "high alkaline compound made up of a blend of herbs, vegetables and soil". It also does not attract many pests as it has a scent which repels insects, he says. He declines to say where he gets it from and how much it costs.

Growing his durians without the use of pesticides was an idea mooted to him more than 10 years ago by his uncle, who is also a durian seller.

Deciding to give it a shot, Mr Goh convinced a friend, who owned two durian plantations in Pahang, to stop using pesticides on his land in 2004 to see if it would produce better-quality durians.

It worked and he subsequently bought the plantations from his friend. He started using the organic fertiliser to grow his durians in 2013.

"It took us a long time to eradicate the low pH in the soil," he says. "I also engaged professionals to use scientific but environmentally friendly methods to purify both plantations."

He declines to reveal how much he paid for the plots of land, which are the size of 11 and 15 football fields.

There are about 400 durian trees in total.

He says that customer feedback has been positive. He plans to buy two to three more plots of land in Malaysia to grow the durians.

About 60 per cent of the durians which come into his stall every day are sold, while the remaining ones are used to make durian desserts and pastries.

Paige Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 28, 2015, with the headline 'Organic fertiliser yields better results'. Print Edition | Subscribe