KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will start exporting durians to China soon, but locals have been assured that there will still be plenty to eat and that prices will not spike.
Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Sim Tze Tzin that the price of durians would not go up drastically following plans to export the fruit.
"The Malaysian public should not be too worried as the 67 farms involved in export of the fruit to China constitute only 464 hectares out of a total of 72,464 hectares (used to plant durians)," he said at the Parliament lobby on Wednesday (April 4).
He added that only the Musang King variety was being targeted for export out of the many available locally.
Earlier in Parliament, Sim also said that with Malaysia going big on durian tourism, authorities from China would start inspections at local orchards and facilities at the end of April.
"Following the latest meeting in February, the General Administration of Customs of the People's Republic of China (GACC) has agreed start inspections at facilities and durian orchard in Malaysia.
"The GACC is expected to conduct inspections for the first application group from April 21 to 27," said Sim.
He said the ministry would embark on various initiatives to boost durian tourism to woo fans of the king of fruits from all over the world.
Sim was responding to a question from Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Kepong) during Question Time about the status of exporting frozen durians to China.
He said the export of frozen durians could only be allowed once the facilities comply with GACC protocols.
Among them, facility operators and orchard owners need to register with the Agriculture Department as the competent authority, obtain a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certificate from the Health Ministry, practice good agriculture practices, using integrated pest management, and the durian must be frozen between -80° to -110°C for at least one hour.
He also revealed that a total of 67 durian farms had registered with the Agriculture Department, and 18 processing plant had applied for the GMP certificate from the Health Ministry.
However, only five of the processing plants had received the GMP.
Asked to comment on a company run by a senior civil servant to monopolise the export of durians to China, Sim said that was perhaps an old practice by the previous government to "benefit certain cronies".
He said such practices would not be tolerated under the current Pakatan Harapan government,
"Whether Pakatan, Barisan Nasional, or any party, if they are orchard owners, it is open to all," he said.