KUALA LUMPUR: Newleaf Plantation Bhd, a major exporter of durians, plans to meet an expected increase in demand from China by expanding its acreage by more than 400ha within the year.
The company currently has only 20.2ha of the premiere varieties Musang King and D24 in its plantation in Raub, Pahang.
Managing director Kenny Wan said the objective was to meet a demand for more Musang King durians from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
“Currently, less than 1% of China’s population have ever tasted durians, yet they are already the third largest buyers in terms of import value,” he said at Newleaf’s headquarters in Mont Kiara, here last week.
On March 13, the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry announced that the government aimed to export 223,716 tonnes of frozen durians, valued at RM350 million to China this year.
Wan’s foray into the durian business was sparked off by a visit to a friend’s orchard in Kuantan four years ago.
On his return, the former business analyst began research into potential markets in China.
“Together with a few friends, I purchased 50 acres (20.2ha) of freehold land in Raub where we now have 2,800 trees,” he said.
He also found a partner in China to take charge of the country’s market. Newleaf now exports six tonnes of durians to China every two months.
To ensure the highest quality, the plantation is equipped with an intelligent farming system. The system includes sensors to detect temperature and humidity, soil condition, moisture and pH value to ensure the trees remain healthy. This data can be downloaded with the use of unique QR codes, Wan explained.
Among the data available are photos of the trees taken monthly, as well as a history of the tree’s health, harvest, fertilisation and irrigation.
Newleaf’s partners in Malaysia and China also visit the farm every June, when the season is at its peak.
For more on the company and its durians, visit www.newleaf.com.my.