Sniffing out new, sustainable export opportunities for Durian
Regulatory Science Manager at Bayer in Thailand
To some people, it’s the smelliest snack in the world, with its distinctive stench even more memorable than its spiky aesthetic – and for all the wrong reasons.
In fact, the smell of the mighty Durian is so foul, the fruit is banned from certain hotels and many types of public transit across Thailand, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong. Despite this, the extremely healthy Durian fruit remains a popular delicacy in high demand throughout China and large parts of Southeast Asia. Working closely with a Thai Farmer’s Association through a Food Chain Partnership initiative to deliver the BayG.A.P. service program, we’re helping Thai farmers capitalize on Durian export opportunities through sustainable practices that help conserve resources.
For Thai farmers, the Durian represents both a major export opportunity and a significant challenge. The country is one of only a few nations that export fresh Durians to China, but to do so, farmers must meet strict regulations. In July 2019, China introduced new requirements for all Durian imports, which now require both Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification for exporters. To achieve this, farmers require a certificate from the Thai Department of Agriculture in addition to various documents to ascertain safe use of crop protection products, soil quality control, water use, and more. According to the Thai Public Broadcasting Service, only 20 percent of Durian exporters in Thailand’s southern provinces and 50% in the northeast have these certifications.
The implementation and verification of good agricultural practices depend on resources that some farmers are unable to obtain. BayG.A.P. helps farmers scale up their processes through practical training, farming advice, and verification support based on the partnership. Together with Kasetsart University, this Food Chain Partnership initiative delivers modular BayG.A.P. programs to farmers, comprising topics such as integrated pest management, safe use of crop protection products, application technology, and food safety. The course helps farmers understand and implement the necessary conditions for Durian growth in line with GAP regulations, earning them the certification from the Thai Department of Agriculture that is required for export. By working closely with Thai Durian farmers, we are helping them produce the highest yields possible with more sustainable farming practices, helping to conserve resources at the same time.
The Durian fruit is highly impacted by infestations of insects and diseases that can be successfully treated by Bayer compounds such as Provado®, Antracol® and Nativo®. Durian trees require tropical heat, abundant moisture, and sunlight to thrive, and the success of Durian farming often comes down to well-drained sandy clay or clay loam, and the soil condition, which must be high in organic matter to balance the pH around a range of 6 to 7. As a result of these factors, the Durian is difficult to produce without the right practical advice and support.
Already this year we have successfully run two BayG.A.P. training sessions, working with 320 farmers to help them improve processes through a combination of classroom-based learning and in-field practical support. Farmers attend lectures and discussions, observe demonstrations, conduct exercises, and are evaluated through an examination at the end of each module before a specially trained BayG.A.P. Farm Advisor provides agronomic advice on integrated crop management. Finally, the entire farming process is reviewed to verify the farmer’s compliance with the requirements. The farmer receives either a Letter of Conformance for the localg.a.p. verification or a pre-audit for a government certification, which facilitates access to both regional and global export markets.
The initiative is proving hugely successful and sees BayG.A.P. working closely with organizations, including the Department of Agriculture Extension, the Department of Agriculture of Chumphon Province, and the Fruit Growers’ Association, to help Durian farmers meet exacting requirements for the export of fresh produce to China, unlocking high growth opportunities for farming businesses. The project demonstrates our belief that by working with key partners in the food chain, we can build positive relationships with everyone.
We have further BayG.A.P. courses planned and are continuing to work with farmers who have already completed our course to help them consistently reap the opportunities for Durian exports. Through the help of the entire food chain, the powerful scent of this stinky fruit is fast becoming the sweet smell of success for Thai Durian farmers.