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Growers seek to tap China demand for frozen durian

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Durian growers in Davao are expecting a bumper harvest this year. -- LEAN S. DAVAL, JR.

DAVAO CITY — Growers and exporters are meeting later this month at the 2nd Durian Summit, in a bid to find ways to meet Chinese demand for frozen durian.

Davao City Durian Industry Council (DCDIC) President Candelario B. Miculob said Chinese traders were in town in May and wanted more frozen durian than what was available.

“They did not set a limit for the quantity. The only problem is we have limited processing capacity. The Chinese want frozen durian… it is easier to export and it is also advantageous for us,” Mr. Miculob said during the Habi at Kape media forum last week.

He said that while the Philippines has a much smaller area planted to durian compared with three other southeast Asian countries, the August to October harvest period here coincides with the off season in these other exporting nations.

Thailand has the biggest durian farming area at more than 96,000 hectares (ha), followed by Malaysia with more than 70,000 ha, and Indonesia with around 50,000 ha. The Philippines, on the other hand, only has 16,000 ha, mainly in Mindanao.

“We have the opportunity to supply because in August, September and October, there is no production in other countries. These are the opportunities that we hope to take advantage of,” he said.

Apart from increasing production and expanding processing capacity, the industry also needs to address the declining area planted to durian due to rapid land conversion.

“We want to share the current developments of the durian industry and the market opportunities available today. We would like also to raise lots of issues during the summit,” Mr. Miculob said.

Among those expected to attend the summit on July 19-20 as speakers, resource persons and participants are representatives from China, the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Science and Technology, farmers, and processors.

The industry is also preparing for the Durian Festival on Aug. 10 to Sept. 25, which forms part of Davao City’s annual Kadayawan Festival.

“We are expecting a lot of production this year, unlike last year the volume of fruits were limited (due to rains). Mangosteen is coming also as well as lanzones and rambutan. There’s a lot of fruits this year, luckily,” Mr. Miculob said.

Mr. Miculob said growers are expecting a harvest of around 48 metric tons of durian during the Kadayawan season.

“We have different (durian) varieties because almost all the varieties really bore fruit. We have a survey involving durian growers of the region and almost everybody said that all trees bore fruit,” he said.

In the Davao Region, which has four processing centers, up to 70% of the harvest usually goes to the export market.

“In 2015 there was so much durian, but in 2016 we were hit by drought and there was so much rainfall in 2017. We are recovering this year,” he added. — Maya M. Padillo