Finding customers before durian season


Almost time: Mature durians hanging from a tree at an orchard in Balik Pulau.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang durians are ready to drop and this time, orchard owners have learnt precious lessons from last year’s movement control order.

When the durians began dropping in May and June last year, orchard owners and sellers were caught in a bind as they could not sell all their harvest.

But this year, even with the interstate travel ban, “we will bring the durians to the customers.”

In Balik Pulau, orchard owner Mohd Farid Mohd Azmi said they secured deals as early as in March with wholesalers from northern states such as Perlis, Perak and Kedah.

“We were caught by surprise by the MCO in March last year so even when the situation improved later, we were unable to clear our durian stock.

“Many durians went to waste and we could only salvage a little, which we froze and sold at lower prices, ” he said.

Based on this experience, Mohd Farid said they engaged with wholesalers early this year.

“We feel more confident now that we have fixed deals with buyers.

“For instance, we secured deals with a wholesaler in Perlis so when the durian supply is ready, the buyer will come in with lorries to bring the stock back to Perlis.

“Then from there, the wholesaler will distribute to smaller traders and markets.

“This will help us clear a lot of our yield but despite having deals, we still have concerns over sudden changes to MCO rules.

“We hope that the interstate travel restrictions will remain as they are because if the government suddenly tightens or closes district or state borders, this will definitely affect our plans, ” he said.

Mohd Farid said with a pronounced dry weather earlier this year, they expect good durian yields next month, with the peak in June before ending in July.

“For my orchard, we usually organise the annual ‘pay one dine-in price to enjoy unlimited durians’ offer but due to the SOP restrictions, we are unsure whether to continue it this year.

“Many orchards in Penang usually hold similar offers but due to the pandemic, we are still in discussion on whether to continue with this, ” he said.

Meanwhile, another durian farm owner in Balik Pulau, Tan Chee Keat, 30, said they too were concerned about getting their durian supply out to customers amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have started engaging delivery service, and plan to roll out durian deliveries to cover more areas not only in Penang, but in Malaysia.

“As the continuing pandemic is a challenge, we need to try new solutions and turn to other ways to get our durians out, ” he said.

Tan, who owns a business branch in Guangzhou, China, will be tapping into the China market by exporting frozen durians.

“As tourists are unable to visit and enjoy our durians, we are looking at ways to get our products to them.

“This way, they will be able to buy the products even if they are unable to travel, ” he said.

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