Although durian has been a mainstay in the lives of most Malaysians for aeons, these days, the king of fruits is well and truly having its moment in the sun, with harvest season often entailing manic crowds and a devotion to eating the fruit that borders on the slavish.
Which is why there is so much anticipation surrounding the second edition of the Bangi Golf Resort Durian Festival & Awards. The festival was launched last year to great acclaim and returns bigger and better this year on 13 and 14 July 2019 with a special new addition: a full-blown durian research centre.
In many ways, the research centre is timely. While the number of durian farmers has increased in tandem with growing global demand for the fruit, very little practical research has been done into how to grow durians more effectively or produce better clones on a commercial scale.
The durian research centre, (which is being built on the Bangi Golf Resort) is a collaboration between durian producers Dulai Fruits and the Bangi Golf Resort and will serve as a testing ground in an effort to hone growing methods, collate knowledge from experienced farmers as well as hopefully develop the next super Musang King.
“With the traction we've been getting from the durian festival, Bangi Golf Resort is starting to be known as a durian hub in the city. So it makes sense that we partner with the relevant people to do the research centre,” says festival director BK Tan.
“And most research agencies conduct research for the sake of doing research. But Dulai is looking at this from a commercial perspective – so they are looking at yielding longer-lasting, better-tasting fruits so they can sell more durians. So the purpose that defines the research is very clear,” adds Tan.
The centre will be modelled on the famed Chanthaburi Horticultural Research Centre in Thailand, with knowledge gained in the KL centre channeled towards research and development in a two-acre plot that the resort has cleared specifically for this purpose. What this effectively means is that the researchers will be able to test out their theories in a real-life setting to determine the feasibility and potential of each idea.
“We will be finding and providing the agronomists for the research centre. So together, we are trying to develop some new breed, or maybe durians with different coloured flesh – we don't know what the possibilities are but we believe that in Malaysia, there are very few people doing it,” says Eric Chan, one of the partners at Dulai Fruits.
The durian research centre will be unveiled during the durian festival and is just one of this year's festival attractions.
Visitors to the festival can also expect to see (and buy) thousands of durians at the festival like D24, Black Thorn and Musang King from farms in Penang, Pahang, Johor and other states in Malaysia. This year, Tan says the festival expects to see farmers bringing in over 5,000 kilos of durians.
Durian lovers might also spot up-and-coming local artists like Sissy Imann, Fara Hezel, Wani Kayrie and Raja Syahiran, who have all been appointed 'friends of the festival'.
The 2019 edition of the World Durian Championship: Malaysia Edition will also see durian farmers vying for the top spot in categories like best Musang King, best registered durian and best non-registered durian.
Another highlight of this year's festival is the Durian Run, a fun, riotous affair which will take place on 14 July and requires participants to run with a durian through the golf course! The run is priced at RM68 for adults and RM48 for children. To find out more, go to www.durianfestival.my.