Rehab programme to double S’wak’s output of durian paste

Uggah (centre) is seen during his visit to Kabuloh. He is flanked by Lambir assemblyman Ripin Lamat and Wong.

MIRI: A durian rehabilitation programme throughout Sarawak will almost double the production of durian paste from 16 tonnes currently to 30 tonnes next year.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas – who is Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development – said the joint Sarawak government and private sector programme is progressing well.

“Top Fruit Sdn Bhd has 30 years of experience in the durian industry and we are also training our agriculture officers to become durian experts with help from University Putra of Malaysia,” he told The Borneo Post after visiting the 552-acre Kabuloh Agricultural Station in Miri yesterday, where he was briefed on the rehabilitation programme’s progress by Department of Agriculture senior researcher Dr Wong Mee Hua.

“Now we are doing our rehabilitation programme, just now I was at Kabuloh, where they started their rehabilitation programme. Kabuloh alone has 585 trees that have a very big potential, and in Sarawak we’ve estimated to have about 300,000 trees.”

Uggah said the ministry has set a very high target for the programme.

“We want to double up the production, say if each tree has only 50 fruits, we want it to be 100 fruits next season. Or, if they have 100 fruits now, we want them to have 150 fruits next season, we want an increase of at least 50 per cent,” he said.

Uggah said similar programmes are being carried out throughout Sarawak.

“We are also rehabilitating Layar Agricultural Station, Tarat Agricultural Station, and Kabuloh Agricultural Station for the (government-owned) durian trees, and at the very same time we are also reaching out to the smallholders, mainly in Serian, Betong, Limbang, and Baram,” he said.

He said the ministry’s biggest challenge is changing farmers’ mindset and discipline regarding tree maintenance.

“Our smallholders normally plant and leave it. Once fruiting, only then they come to care for the fruit.

“In actual fact, durian needs regular maintenance to avoid diseases, apply fertilisers for different stages like flowering and fruiting based on the formula and knowledge from Top Fruits Sdn Bhd experience in maintaining their durian farms in Johor and Pahang,” he said.

The Sarawak government recently appointed Top Fruits – Malaysia’s leading durian exporter – as an anchor company.

The Kabuloh research centre has dedicated 13.5ha for 585 durian trees from the D24, D197, D168, MDUR 88, and D99 varieties.

Located 48km from Miri city, it was originally known as the Luak Agricultural Station, which was established in 1964 as an oil palm experiment station.

From the total 552ha, 291.1ha are being used for crop research, 13ha for inland fisheries, 248.5ha for Permanent Food Production Parks, 34.2ha for Sarawak Skills Development Centre, and 24.5ha for the Subis Area Farmers Organisation.