Reports by TARRENCE TAN, MARTIN CARVALHO, HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM and RAHIMY RAHIM
PRICES of durian in the local market will not go up drastically following the plan to export frozen whole durian to China.
Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Sim Tze Tzin said Malaysians should not be too worried as the 67 farms selected to export the fruit involve only 464ha out of 72,464ha of durian orchards in the country.
“Besides this, only the Musang King variety has been earmarked for export,” he said at Parliament lobby.
According to trade data from the United Nations, durian exports to China have been rising at 35% on average a year and were worth US$1.1bil in 2017, up from just US$243mil a decade ago.
While Malaysia previously exported only downstream durian products to China, the recent initiative by the government to export frozen whole fruit has created fear among locals that they might have to pay a higher price for the king of the fruit.
Earlier in his reply to Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Kepong) during Minister’s Question Time, Sim said authorities from China would inspect durian orchards and their facilities soon.
He said the General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) would need to ensure the orchards and facilities comply with its protocols.
Among them, he said, facility operators and orchard owners need to register with the Agriculture Department as the competent authority and obtain the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certificate from the Health Ministry.
“Other protocols include good agriculture practices, using integrated pest management and the durian must be frozen between -80°C and -110°C for at least one hour.
“The inspection for the first group is from April 21 to 27,” he said.
Sim said a total of 67 farms had registered with the Agriculture Department and 18 processing plants had applied GMP certificates.
“Only five plants received the GMP from the Health Ministry,” he said.
Asked to comment on a company run by a senior civil servant that monopolises durian export to China, Sim said that was perhaps an old practice by the previous government “to benefit certain cronies”.
He said such practice would not be tolerated under the current Pakatan Harapan government,
“Whether Pakatan, Barisan Nasional or any parties, if they are orchard owners it is open to all,” he said.