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Thai durian growers brace for China’s stringent import checks

BANGKOK (CNA) – Durian plays a crucial role in the Thai economy because the fruit is much loved in its key export market – China.

In 2021, Thailand exported more than 875,000 tonnes of the spiky fruits to China. This generated at least USD3.4 billion, according to statistics from the Agriculture Department.

This year, the country aims to export even more durians as larger harvests are expected, but China’s zero-COVID-19 policy could have an adverse impact on Thailand’s durian export in the coming season.

The stringent strategy has caused traffic congestion at various border crossings, where thousands of trucks carrying food supplies from Southeast Asia undergo inspection for the coronavirus.

Thai industry players said in case of detection, the goods would be destroyed and the border could be closed for several days or weeks.

Already, many farmers in Thailand have been affected, especially during last year’s longan season.

“The damage was immense, with tens of thousands of tonnes of the fruits estimated to have spoiled,” said Chonlatee Numnoo, director of the Agricultural Research and Development Office in Region 6.

Region 6 is home to Thailand’s biggest durian producers, which includes the eastern provinces of Chanthaburi, Rayong and Trat.

According to Chonlatee, the production of durians in the eastern region alone is expected to reach 740,000 tonnes this year, not to mention 210,000 tonnes of mangosteens – another important export to China.