'Made-in-China' durians: Thailand's trade office warns of future competition

A vendor sells durian on a street in Bangkok, on Aug 27, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Thai farmers are being urged to improve the quality of their durian in order to preserve market share after China's Hainan province succeeded in growing durian seedlings imported from Malaysia.

Ms Wanlada Rattanapanich, director of the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) office in Nanning, China, said the department has watched as China attempted for quite some time to grow durian trees.

"A private company in Hainan province bought 20 'Sanno' durian seedlings from Malaysia and succeeded in growing them in Sanya city in southern Hainan," she said.

Mr Feng Xuejie, president of the Hainan Tropical Fruit Institute, revealed that growing durian in China has always been a challenge for local farmers, as durian trees need more space than typical fruits and usually take four to eight years to bear fruit.

"We have been trying to grow durian trees for decades, but the results were mostly unsatisfactory, such as small fruit and insipid taste," said Xuejie.

"Although the latest attempt to grow Sanno durians from Malaysia was quite a success, there is still the risk of failure if the farming areas cannot control the weather conditions like we did in the lab and test plots."

Ms Wanlada added that although Hainan is still unable to produce sufficient quantity or quality for domestic consumption or export, with continued research and development they could become a future competitor to Thailand.

"Currently more than 80 per cent of fresh durians in the Chinese market are imported from Thailand," she said.

"To preserve the market share, Thai farmers need to maintain and improve the quality of our product especially in terms of fruit size and unique taste."

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