Durian has generated RM1.97 billion in sales volume for Malaysia last year from 66,038 ha of land planted with the Fruit, the New Straits Times Online reported on Sunday.
According to the Agriculture Department, durian growers produced 302,000 tonnes of durian at the rate of its popularity, along with the high prices it fetches and strong demand.
The Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi) had contributed to the growing importance of the durian crop by producing three notable durian species – MDUR 78, MDUR 79 and MDUR 88.
Mardi is introducing new species with better aroma, taste and texture. Director of Horticulture Research Centre at Mardi, Pauziah Muda said the new species would be more resistant to disease, such as the stem canker caused by the fungus phytophthora palmivora.
She added that the new species had also been designed to produce fruit at different times of the year to ensure continuous supply.
Among Mardi’s breakthrough is the introduction of the wild durian D. Iowanus as root stock plants which are resistant to stem canker.
She said Mardi had also developed a “minimally-processed” technology to extend the shelf life and marketability of durians.
The introduction of minimally-processed technology helps industries to overcome obstacles in market access for whole durian in China.
Durian entrepreneur Simon Chin, founder of D’King which manufactures durian downstream products such as pastries, desserts and confectionery said the nation must not take its position in the durian industry for granted. He cautioned that Thailand may take over Malaysia as the country that produces the world’s best durian.