WHEN WE SAW a footage of a post in the Internet showing big piles of durian in Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao, I could just imagine the frustration of the farmer in disposing his harvest. He was offering his durian at only P30 per kilo. With the high cost of shipping from Mindanao to Manila, the farmer could not expect to get a higher farmgate price from traders..
All the more we are convinced that farmers should consider planting more durian in Luzon for the big Manila market.
YES, WE CAN IN LUZON – Judging from personal observation in supermarkets in Metro Manila, durian prices are much too high for ordinary consumers to afford. For instance, one fruit estimated to be about four kilos, had a price tag of P800 in a supermarket along Ortigas Extension in Pasig City. There were cheaper smaller fruits that remained unsold that were starting to be spoiled. That only means there are few buyers.
EXPENSIVE TO SHIP FROM MINDANAO – The durian fruits brought to Manila are sourced from Mindanao where the prices are more reasonable. What seems to be the problem is the high cost of shipping, especially by airfreight.To make allowance for spoilage, the traders have to sell at a high price in Manila.
PROMOTE DURIAN IN LUZON – One strategy could be to encourage more farmers in Luzon to plant durian for commercial purposes, meaning as an honest to goodness business. In the past many years durian has been successfully produced in places like Cavite, Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Batangas, Mindoro, Rizal and elsewhere although in small scale.
TARGET AREAS – One target for growing the fruit in Luzon could be the coconut plantations with ageing trees that have ample space between them. Of course, there are many other suitable areas that are good for growing durian in Luzon. It’s true that durian is more sensitive to stress than other fruit trees but that could be remedied by adopting proven good agriculture practices. Durian is easily affected by waterlogging but that can be remedied by providing proper drainage. It can also be adversely affected by drought but that can also be mitigated by drip irrigation.
CREDIT FROM D.A. – To adopt the improved growing practices, the Department of Agriculture should include durian production under its liberal lending program.
UPLB GOLD – There are practical techniques that can make durian production in Luzon successful. One of them is the choice of the right variety. One good choice is UPLB Gold bred by Dr. Leon Namuco, retired professor and fruit tree breeder from Los Baños.
PUYAT VARIETY – Larry Miculob who is producing export quality durian in Davao City recommends the Puyat variety because it has been observed to be high-yielding and it has excellent eating quality. Another superior variety is the Duyaya with thick flesh that’s sweet and creamy.