The highly priced Durian fruit crop has the potential to benefit farmers in Malaita Province following a recent discovery that the crop already yielded substantial revenue for existing rural farmers in Dala, West Kwara’ae constituency.
This has prompted the Malaita Provincial Government in partnership with an Investor to encourage farmers to grow more durian trees as an alternative to other existing cash crops.
Last week, investor Yang Jian Qing together with Officers from the Province visited farmers at the Dala Agriculture Research Center to encourage them into Durian farming.
Mr. Yang told farmers that this original Malaysian durian tree is a high value cash crop. The fruit is popular for consumers in Malaysia and Thailand. Local farmers can harvest and sell to the Asian consumers in both the domestic and export markets. This also include a niche market in China which soared recently with global demand by 400% according to HSBC financial market and business information over the past two years with an import market value of $6 billion worth of durian fruits indicating 91% of global market demand.
Malaita Provincial Secretary Eric George said further studies to invest into durian farming is important to support and encourage farmers into this new venture.
He said an integrated approach involving the Provincial Government and key sector Ministries such as the Ministry of Provincial Government and Institutional Strengthening, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock and the Ministry of Commerce is necessary to promote durian farming throughout the country.
He noted the need for further agricultural studies to invest on the right durian variety, species, grafting techniques, soil structure requirements and climate conditions.
“Whilst projected demand for durian in the domestic and international markets offer profitable opportunities for farmers, proper management in farming will maintain the economic lifespan of durian trees up to 50 years with a sustainable source of income,” he said.
An existing Durian farmer in Dala, Hubert Fafale shared his testimony during the visit saying he earned an estimated market value of SBD$50,000.00 for a single tree in one harvest during peak production periods.
Mr. Fafale mentioned that yielding starts in 4 to 5 years depending on better management of durian trees.
According to Fafale, harvesting happens after every 125 days, which indicated three harvesting periods for one durian tree in a year. This means a durian farmer can receive $150,000.00 per tree annually.
“Cultivating and proper management of just 10 durian trees in the soil will reward a hard-working farmer with $1.5 million in one year with high yielding production,” Fafale explained.
With Fafale’s experience, Mr Yang expressed confidence that the Durian crop has the potential to transform the livelihood of farmers and their families with high returns and to become self-reliant.
Provincial Secretary George Eric also noted that the fruit can be value added to make it more profitable for farmers and other downstream processing industries.
“In the long run, investing in this durian farming will boost agro-industry to create a high value in downstream processing and value adding. That include consumption of fresh fruits, cooked or boiled, creating a preferable flavor for ice-cream. Moreover, value-adding of the durian fruit can be canned, dried and processed into paste for export which will increase our foreign reserves,” he said.
It was noted from a market synopsis in 2022, the global market size for durian in the Asian market was USD19.3 billion, about SBD164 billion. It is expected to reach USD37.94 billion, SBD322 billion in 2032.
Moreover, increase in the demand trend for durian market value is noted as ingredient in the food and beverages industry expected to drive market revenue growth during the forecast period.
Durian is a processed bye-product of ice cream, cakes and other desserts flavoring ingredient in food and beverages items. This durian fruit is well-recognized in the Southeast Asian cuisine for its distinctive flavor and aroma.
Mr. Fafale did not realize this although his father planted the durian tree several decades ago. It was only around year 2000 that he observed this niche market. He started selling durian fruits to several Chinese shop owners in Auki and recently to Chinese communities in Honiara.
Currently, farmer Fafale is now managing about 500 durian nursery plants and offering agriculture training to other farmers to provide better knowledge on how to venture into Durian farming.