THE “KING” of Philippine fruits will not only be sporting the “majesty” of all its thorny spikes and disperse its pervasive scent, and all that it has been known for.
Right now, it is just waiting for the door to open to one of the world’s largest markets and see how the rest of the world reacts to its prickly presence and smelly aroma that patrons crave for and even new converts have come to love and savor.
Widely grown in Davao City and some parts of the Davao Region, the “heavenly” luscious taste of durian is poised to “invade” the China market soon, five years after then Mayor now Vice President Sara Z. Duterte started to explore trade ties through Beijing’s newly established consulate general in this city.
Ready to go
FREEZER vans have already been filled to the brim with the fruit at the farms in preparation for the final go signal for shipment. “The green light would come from China now,” said Abel James I. Monteagudo, director of the Davao Regional Office of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Export of durian to China was made a part of the trade agreement that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. signed with Beijing during his state visit there last year.
It was made possible as an addendum to the trade agreement after the Philippine side, specifically the Bureau of Plant Industry-National Plant Quarantine Services Division (BPI-NPQSD), “officially sent a request for market access of fresh durian to the People’s Republic of China (PRC),” the agency told the BusinessMirror.
Technical information on fresh durian was submitted to initiate import risk analysis for the commodity, and on January 4th this year, the work plan for the export of fresh durian to China was signed by both countries during the visit of President Marcos, who concurrently heads the DA.
The BPI-NPQSD said the BPI currently has “five licensed exporters of fresh durian.” It said the companies were endorsed to the General Administration of Customs (GACC) of PRC, “but were not yet confirmed to be registered by China.”
But the process has been started to accredit or recognize the durian to enter the China market.
Monteagudo said local agriculture technicians and China’s phytosanitary technicians visited the durian farms here in December last year to January this year.
“What they require is that the fruits should not fall to the ground to avoid injury to the fruit or be the cause of carrying soil bacteria when exported,” he said. The durian trees should not also be intercropped to avoid becoming a host to other plant pests that might enter China.
Initially, the farms have gotten positive reviews from Chinese inspectors.
“They also want to get hold of the video of the inspection that their officials in China may also look at. We already submitted the video in the first week of March,” Monteagudo said. “If they saw any other crop other than durian, the farm would automatically fail.”
“They also require that the farms are Good Agricultural Practices-certified,” he said.
Monteagudo said 59 durian farms here were inspected.
WHILE the fruit holds the regal crown among Philippine fruits, its smell has been the main issue that is holding at bay the popularity of durian.
Yet, the fruit is widely grown also in other Asian neighbors, and its income contribution to the economy is not miniscule.
Thailand, for one, the largest durian grower and the main exporter to China, averages 875,000 tons a year of exports, giving a picture of how the fruit is turning its pungent smell into a good foreign-exchange generator.
The Thai government said that between February 1 and November 24 last year, it exported 779,206 tons to China and generated 82.8 billion baht, equivalent to $2.429 billion or a whopping P131.976 billion.
That’s how “smelly” it gets with the right market, and the Philippines is battling to get even just a slice of this huge market.
UNKNOWN to many, the Philippines has recently tapped the international market for its durian, with 10 countries already receiving the iconic fruit from Davao.
From the Port of Davao City, durian is exported fresh and frozen to nine countries, and packaged as jam for the United Arab Emirates.
Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the US accept the fresh durian fruit export, with Japan (49.72 tons) and Hong Kong (30.642 tons) getting the big shipment last year.
The frozen fruits are exported also to Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, with Thailand (334.826 tons) and South Korea (172.225 tons) being the biggest importers.
Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and the US also import the frozen durian meat, with Thailand (2,425 tons) and Hong Kong (106.53 tons) getting the bigger bulk of the shipment.
UAE imports the Philippine durian through the jam form at 0.00296 ton, while Indonesia is buying the Davao durian seedlings.
Some of the shipments to these countries were actually not all intended for the receiving country alone. Thailand, for example, is a third-country party to final destination markets like China, but because of the lack of a trade agreement, the Davao durian growers can only export in small volumes.
“But we are happy now that finally, the door has been opened to the world’s largest importer of our fruits, including banana and durian,” Monteagudo said. Imagine how a durian break into the China market could bring additional revenues, not only to our country, but to our farmers here.
Image credits: Manuel Cayon