China Has Figured Out How To Grow Durians & Is Expecting To Harvest 2,450 Tonnes In June
"We are not in Malaysia or Thailand. We are in Hainan, China," said a Chinese man while introducing a tree bearing durians.
Durian is a native fruit of Southeast Asia.
Malaysia, along with its neighbouring countries, have long enjoyed the thorny fruits and the economic benefits of cultivating them thanks to the 'durian diplomacy' with China.
But it may no longer be a fruit that is grown specifically in this region, as China, which has been cultivating the fruit over the past few years, is expecting a sizable durian crop this summer
According to a video in a China Press report published yesterday, 15 March, a person touring a durian farm in China's southern island province of Hainan was elated and in disbelief that the King of Fruits was seen growing on a young durian tree.
"We are not in Malaysia or Thailand. We are in Hainan, China," said the person while standing beside a tree bearing durians.
"I am so lucky... and excited... This is a Golden Pillow durian, and the trees around here are growing Musang Kings," he added.
A farmer told him that the estate he was on is "the number one durian planting base in Lingshui, Hainan", and that the trees can produce fruit in every season.
The video showed one of many durian farms in the province, as Hainan is expected to harvest 93 hectares, or about 130 football fields, of the thorny fruit this June
To be specific, the total produce is estimated to be 2,450 tonnes, which is about 0.3% of China's durian imports in 2022, reported Produce Report, a portal dedicated to China's agricultural news and analysis.
Last year, the world's second-largest economy imported 824,000 tonnes of durians, valued at more than USD4 billion (RM18 billion), reported South China Morning Post (SCMP), citing official figures.
While 2,450 tonnes is just a fraction of the total import, the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences said the figure is expected to grow to between 45,000 tonnes and 75,000 tonnes in 2024
An officer from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Hainan Province said that Sanya, the southernmost city of Hainan, started cultivating the King of Fruits four years ago, reported Produce Report.
As of now, Sanya has devoted 670 hectares of land to the crop, with 20% to 30% of the trees beginning to bear fruit.
It is forecasted that the trees will produce even more fruits in the coming one to two years, and efforts are being made to expand the durian plantation to cover 3,300 hectares of land in five years' time.
Durian cultivation in China is possible due to Hainan's climate. The southernmost province is almost tropical, with very mild winters and long, hot, muggy, and rainy summers.
In comparison, Malaysia has 76,895 hectares of land dedicated to durian cultivation, said Agricultural Department director-general Datuk Zahimi Hassan in June 2022, reported The Star.
Typically, durian trees that grow from seeds would take eight to 10 years time to bear fruit. The process can be shortened to at least four years when they are grown from grafted trees.
The older the trees are, the more fruit they bear, according to a fact sheet by food-themed museum Alimentarium.
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