In this, and indeed with many agricultural advances, FAMA has done the nation proud. The initiative is a noble one, and indeed one that brings to mind the agricultural background of our nation. Malaysia is a soil-rich country, with ancient societies that flourished on agriculture and aquaculture. It makes sense, then, that our local specialties include more than one ingredient locally grown and locally sourced.
Beyond the necessary supply for the homeland demands, however, farmers have had little success with marketing. Matters beyond the border of our nation provide additional complication that farmers rarely have the means to counter. This is where FAMA steps in. Because Malaysia is so known for durians, which many believe to be the king of all fruit, the task for marketing said fruit falls into none other than FAMA’s hands. The Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (FAMA) has done much to see this spiny, spiky king of all fruit marketed worldwide, even venturing into a partnership with China where the fruit is much-beloved. It is through FAMA’s efforts that Malaysian durians, of the Musang King and D24 varieties, have gained as much traction as they have in the international spotlight.
Suffice to say, it was not an easy journey from the get go. The people of China were accustomed to Thai durians, which were considered of a lesser grade in the mainland. To educate them about the virtues of Malaysian durians required effort and plenty of marketing, something the people of FAMA tackled head-on with determination. The end result of durian-related enlightenment was achieved through mass taste-testing, coupled with proper education.
Thai durians are harvested at 10 – 14 before optimum ripeness, thereby allowing for a more time-consuming method of delivery, via the sea. This, of course, ensures the durians arrive perfectly fresh – but with considerably less-developed flavour. Malaysian durians, however, are inevitably superior in terms of ripening, processing, and later exporting. Because these durians are harvested at optimum ripeness, when they fall to the ground, exporters are allowed only 24 – 48 hours in which to process, package, and send them off to their destination. Such requires careful logistics – that which FAMA has supplied in the form of durian processing plants.
In the span of one day, these delightful Malaysian fruits are collected at their farms, brought to their processing plants, cleaned, weighed, packaged, and then sent off to Hong Kong where they are eagerly awaited by the durian-loving crowd. With much needed funding from FAMA, farmers were able to open specialty outlets entirely dedicated to the promotion of durian applications. Pastries, pancakes, ice creams, smoothies – the sky became the limit, and it was endless.
For companies like D-King, producers of gourmet durian- flavoured foods such as durian coffee, durian pie, durian dodol, durian Osaka cake, and even durian egg pudding, as well as Dorenia, which specialises in durian for food applications, the dedication of these efforts and funds were nothing short of perfection for the sake of advancement. It is without a doubt thanks to the FAMA initiative that the Malaysian durian has made it so far, the golden child of our nation – both figuratively, and literally.
The journey continues, despite the distance this prickly fruit has come since its earlier days in the global market. Where it was once priced at RM 20 per kilo, Malaysian durians now cost RM 200 for the same weight. From here on, who’s to say how high the King will fly, with FAMA by its side?