Durian farms identified to help demonstrate farming technologies

Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas

KUCHING, April 23: The Department of Agriculture (DOA) has identified suitable durian farms at Semongok (Kuching), Tarat (Serian), Layar (Betong) and Kabuloh (Miri) as demonstration plots for farming technologies to improve fruit quality and yields in the state.

According to Top Fruits (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, a significant quantity fresh durian which they purchased last season was of low quality and not suitable to be processed into durian paste.

Thus, the DOA is planning to implement durian rehabilitation programmes throughout Sarawak, by rehabilitating existing local durian trees, to be more productive and to produce high quality fruit.

Minister of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said one of the initiatives to achieve the goal of being a net exporter of food by 2030 is through close collaboration with private sector players that have the technology, management expertise, capital and ready access markets for both domestic and global arenas.

“We need private sector investment injection into the state economy and we shall transform the agriculture sector through modernising and commercialising the industry alongside the whole supply and value chain. We can also adopt new business models with the application of latest production technology, leveraging on ICT and digital technology,” Uggah said at the signing ceremony for a licence agreement between the state government, represented by DOA, and Top Fruits (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd today.

Through this initiative, farmers will be motivated to rehabilate and maintain their local durian farms as the marketing aspect will be handled by Top Fruits.

“Due to the huge potential in export markets, entrepreneurs should venture into commercial farming of clonal durian such as Musang King and Black Thorn as these varieties are in high demand especially in China.

“I urge farmers to diversify their income. As we know, prices of palm oil, rubber and pepper have dropped and if this continues, it will affect the livelihood of our farmers. With an anchor company such as Top Fruits Sarawak, they can help farmers in the processing and marketing part,” Uggah said.

Meanwhile, the licence agreement will see Top Fruits Sarawak as the operator of the collecting, processing and packaging centre at Tarat, Serian once the renovation and upgrading works are completed.

Uggah said currently Top Fruit Sarawak has set up a temporary processing factory to produce frozen durian paste at Batu Kitang.

As of March 21, within four months, Top Fruits Sarawak has successfully exported 16 tonnes of frozen paste to China.

“According to Top Fruits Sarawak, in 2017, Malaysia’s total export value for frozen durian and frozen durian paste was RM130 million, mainly to China, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia and USA.

From December 2017 to January 2018, the company had purchased 80 tonnes of fresh local durian which was processed into 16 tonnes of raw durian paste. At the moment, they source fresh durians from Kuching, Serian and Sibu. They will gradually expand their coverage in other divisions, Uggah said.

For 2018, Top Fruits Sarawak is targeting to produce 60 tonnes of raw durian paste, which requires at least 300 tonnes of fresh local durians.

They seek out and encourage farmers to rehabilitate and maintain their current durian trees and to supply their fresh durian fruit to them. — DayakDaily