6 June 2024

Thai agricultural officials impounded about 50 tonnes of durian at an export warehouse, in the eastern province of Chanthaburi province yesterday (Monday), after they found much of the fruit was unripe.

A special team of durian inspectors visited a warehouse in the Noen Soong sub-district for a random search of the Mon Thong durian, which were packed in cardboard boxes ready to be exported to China.

Initially, the officials selected two boxes for examination and found some of the durian to be unripe, which is regarded as substandard. Then, they ordered many more boxes to be opened for inspection.

An official said that inspection of all 50 tonnes of durian might take two days, but the owner of the rented warehouse, reportedly a Chinese trader, would be given a chance to separate the ripe durian from the unripe before they are checked by officials.

He warned that, if more than 10% of the durian intended for export are found to be unripe, the warehouse owner, the farmer and the pickers or cutters concerned could face charges, and penalties of up to three years in prison and/or a fine of between 60,000 – 100,000 baht if found guilty.

He said that the durian at the warehouse came from farms in Ao Yai and Ao Chor, in neighbouring Trat province.

While the inspection was underway, three pickup trucks arrived at the warehouse to unload durian from the farms in Trat.

The officials then inspected the durian on the three vehicles and found several unripe fruit.

China is Thailand’s major export market for durian, but, every year, there have been complaints from Chinese buyers that much of the fruit sent from Thailand is unripe and inedible, forcing the Thai government to get tough with the farmers, exporters and fruit pickers.

Unscrupulous farmers usually sell unripe durian at the start of the harvesting season, because it tends to fetch a higher price, with the price gradually dropping as more durian are harvested.