The Samlot Durian Cluster in Battambang province has been improving its cultivation techniques as recommended by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries after meeting with a group of investors to negotiate on exporting the crop to China in the near future.

However, Samlot Durian Cluster president Nay Chorn said on May 9 that while the association had met with a number of companies wishing to import Samlot district durian for sale in their countries, there were some areas of concern regarding exports to China.

“The Samlot Durian Cluster and the Battambang provincial department of agriculture have held many discussions regarding the export of Samlot durian to China.

“The Chinese had previously just asked how many tonnes of durian we could supply them with per year.

“But they now want us to provide detailed data, and we are worried that if we sign a contract and cannot meet the supply as stipulated, this will be a problem,” Chorn said.

In mid-2022, he added, the provincial agriculture department brought Thai and Chinese traders to the cluster’s plantations to look at exporting durian to China through Thailand, with the Chinese side satisfied with the taste and quality of the Samlot produce.

“As for the taste and quality, we can guarantee that our durians are of good quality, as well as delicious, and they are also certified by the Ministry of Agriculture.

“But supply quantities and meeting phytosanitary worthiness are obstacles that will likely require us to spend further capital to overcome,” he said.

The Samlot Durian Cluster has nearly 20 plantations as members, with the annual harvest ranging from 300-400 tonnes, according to Chorn.

Battambang provincial department of agriculture official Heng Sithy said that while the Ministry of Agriculture and provincial departments had a duty to find markets for farmers and introduce traders to them, negotiations on exports were dependent on the cluster and the investor.

In Battambang province, durian is only cultivated in Samlot district, he added, where currently 417ha out of 546ha of plantations are harvested, with more than 12 tonnes able to be grown from a single hectare.

“More than 5,000 tonnes are harvested every year. It costs between 13,000 riel and 15,000 riel per kilogram for durian bought directly from the plantation, depending on the variety.

“Monthong durian is the most expensive variety. Durian does not ripen until the end of June or early July, when it will be abundant,” Sithy said.

The Ministry of Agriculture has stated that Cambodia does not as yet have an overseas durian market, especially to China, with the stage of holding negotiations on opening up the phytosanitary barrier yet to be reached.

Cambodia’s durian production is still limited, it added, while many other Cambodian agricultural products are still awaiting permission to enter the Chinese market after inspections. The Ministry of Agriculture is also checking production capacity.