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Saturday June 26, 2010

Durian to be used as a tourist draw

BALIK PULAU: The king of fruits, the durian, will be promoted as a key tourism attraction.

The thorny fruit could play an important role in boosting tourism, said minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

“I have met many tourists who travel all the way to Penang for the fruit. We can have durian trails and a big annual festival that caters to locals and tourists.

Yummy: Dr Ng joining tourists for a durian feast in Balik Pulau Friday.

“Perhaps we can have the festival next year,” she told reporters at the “A Taste of Durian” festival in Sungai Pinang here yesterday.

Dr Ng said the ministry needed to work closely with orchard owners one month before the start of the durian season, so the durian trail could be planned properly.

“We need to know when the trees start flowering as logistics and timing are very important,” she said, adding that Balik Pulau was an ideal place to conduct such trails.

Dr Ng said the matter was discussed in Cabinet yesterday.

“We also want to see how the durian can be exported at a fixed price. In Singapore, quality durians like the Ang Heh (red prawn) and Hor Lor (gourd) are selling for RM75, but here you can buy it for RM30 per fruit.

“There is a need to see how we can do away with the middlemen and develop the export market,” she said.

Dr Ng added that Thailand was able to export the fruit without going through the middlemen because they plucked the fruit from the tree instead of wating for it to ripen and fall. Such a method was not suitable here as the taste would not be the same, she said.

“We are now looking at how we can export the durian to China,” she said.

On a separate matter, Dr Ng said that an announcement on the Botanic Gardens’ arches would be made today.

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