Davao’s first shipment of durian to China was made available to the public early this week. This good news comes after it was shipped via chartered plane last April 6, 2023 then inspected by China’s strict customs officials. A program was held in China to commemorate this historic trade event, as only Thailand and Vietnam, and now the Philippines are allowed to export durian to China.
“The industry is very excited for this new market, especially that we can directly send it to China… Hopefully, this will open new doors to farmers and new doors for other exporters exporting from other countries because China is one of the biggest importers of durian,” Emmanuel Belviz, president of the Durian Industry Association of Davao City said in a phone interview. “They import around 81% of all durian worldwide, so it is really exciting that the Philippines has been approved to export directly. It will really change the industry.”
This initial shipment is just a taste of what Filipino farmers and Chinese consumers can expect once shipments regularize. “This is just a soft launch,” Belviz said in Taglish, “ there are farmers who have some supply of durian and it would be a waste if they weren’t sent off; it would be a loss. Good thing the market opened… but the grand launch will be around the main season… around August [to] October. That’s the main season of durian here in Davao.”
Work to be done
This is just the beginning. Industry insiders stress that there is still a lot of work to be done so more farmers, especially small ones, can take advantage of this partnership.
“We really have a lot of work to really help our farmers produce good quality durian… because I think the Philippines is lagging behind our durian production technologies, our post harvest technologies,” Belviz said. “Hopefully the Department of Agriculture can help in advancing more research and more techniques in the farm systems of durian to improve the quality and quantity of durian….”
Aside from production and post harvest technologies, farmers seeking accreditation should be able to adhere to China’s strict requirements. “…we need to teach the farmers, especially aiming for export, to professionalize farming because for this export market, we need the farmers to have a background on training on GAP, Good Agricultural Practice, and we have to do the proper recording for the traceability systems that is required by the Chinese government,” Belviz said.
There’s room for everyone
Durian is one of China’s top imported fruits, with the country importing more than 800,000 tonnes of the fruit in 2021, with demand continuing to soar.
This is a great opportunity for farmers who, because of local systemic practices, haven’t yet seen the practical need to professionalize their businesses. The idea of a guaranteed buyer might just be the incentive they need to scale up their operations. The more farmers being able to acquire accreditation from the Chinese government means more opportunity for the country to showcase its produce.
“[Interested farmers] contact their local BPI (Bureau of Plant Industry) offices, and they can inquire how they can get their Good Agricultural Practices training and they should apply for a farm code which the BPI will give the farmer,” Belviz said. “Hopefully more [farmers] can get accredited… It’s not the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) that will approve [the export licenses]. The GACC (General Administration of Customs of the People’s Republic of China) will have the final approval for these farms.”
It is hoped that more farmers will consider filing for accreditation. Not only will this improve the country’s export and durian industries, but the hope of bigger and steady profit might hopefully encourage farmers of livestock and other produce to professionalize as well.