Chinese snapping up durian farms, expect prices to rise

Musang King durian via Irrational Cat
Musang King durian via Irrational Cat

China Press is reporting the latest investment craze to hit mainland China: durian. Companies, and individuals alike are partnering with local farmers to snap up orchards growing the world-famous Malaysia durian, Musang King. Currently, Chinese own 121 hectares of prime Malaysian durian land.

The popularity of the fragrant durian, referred to here as the “king of fruits”, has skyrocketed among Chinese tourists. They are particularly fond of the Musang King variety, a strain of durian prized for its creamy, sweet flavor. In recent years, this spike in popularity has resulted in several knock-on effects.

There is now a lack of supply in Singapore, as Malaysian farmers are keen to export to China, where they can fetch double to triple the price. Those durians do make it to market for Singaporeans are more expensive, and of a substandard quality, compared to previous harvests before the Chinese demand took over.

Also feeling the pains of price hikes are Malaysians themselves. Desaru Fruit Farm director Alice Tong has said her farm welcomes twenty to thirty busloads of tourists per week. Unsatisfied even with the readily available Musang King exported to China, they seek a “fresher and more fragrant” fruit at the source. This increased demand has meant that the price has gone from RM30 per kilo, to RM60-RM90 now.

Fancy starting leaving the city life behind, and striking it rich with a durian farm? Here are some basic tips: The trees take 120 days to go from flower to fruit, and the peak season runs from May to end of August. The flesh is dependent on the age of tree, and the soil, and in your favor, Chinese tourists prefer to pay the premium price for fancy strains, as they are more skeptical of cheaper, kampung durian. The premium trees grow in the equatorial foothills at around 1000m above sea level. The cooler weather at night helps set the fruit after they are pollinated by bats.

If the fragrant durian is too much of a hot garbage juice in a flower patch aroma for your liking, also popular with Chinese tourists are mango, pineapple and dragon fruit. Green thumbs, time to turn that soil into gold.


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