Govt plans pilot durian plantation at Felda land

BY AFIQ AZIZ/FILE PIC

THE government plans to start a pilot project that allows the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlers to plant durian trees on their land, as a result of low take-up in the palm oil industry and huge untapped demand for durian production.

Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MoA) Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said the large scale plan would allow planters to generate a greater income from exports of durian.

“I have discussed with the Economic Affairs (MEA) Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali that while we are facing tough market in the palm sector, we had identified a few areas of land that belongs to the Felda Plantation Sdn Bhd to plant durian, as well as other premium varieties.

“These products could be commercialised in a larger scale,” he told a media conference after officiating the Agrobank Durian Festival in Kuala Lumpur today.

Last June, Salahuddin revealed that the ministry aims to supply 1,000 tonnes of Malaysia’s frozen whole durian to China every month, which the first chartered flight brought the fruit reached Henan province in China last month.

Oil Palm products, on the other hand, are expected to face shaky demand due to the European resolution in phasing out biofuels from the commodity, pressuring some 600,000 small planters to find a new way to make a living.

“One of the proposals is for MoA and MEA to work together so the Felda can be planted with cash crop.

“As Felda Plantation Sdn Bhd has also available lands, so we think we can make use of this to plant durian. There will be a pilot project and the committee has also been formed,” Salahuddin said.

“The land must be able to grow premium crops such as Musang King, Black Thorn and “Udang Merah”, with approximately more than 40ha of land as it is a large scale production,” he added, without revealing the location of the proposed project.

According to Salahuddin, one hectare of durian plantation could produce up to 70 durian trees. 

In the case the popular Durian Musang King, which rated more than RM20 per kg, the growers could earn up to RM105,000 revenue per season.

“When we reach better economy of scale, I believe the price of durian would be more affordable for the local consumers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Salahuddin said Agrobank had financed 339 durian-based agropreneurs from 2004 to August 2019 with total financing, amounting RM90 million. He said Agrobank is expected to facilitate more financing based on future applications.

In total, the bank aims to sustain its financing portfolio with a conservative growth of RM1.2 this year, the same level achieved in 2018. Agrobank had channelled RM10.7 billion in financing last year, slightly passing the RM1.2 billion earlier target.