PH exports smelly, sweet durian to China for first time
The Philippines for the first time exported durian to China, fulfilling a deal signed by Manila and Beijing in January, Malacañang announced on Saturday.
The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said a total of 63.2 metric tons of the pungent but tasty fruit were delivered on April 6 and April 8, of which 28 metric tons were sent on Saturday via airfreight from Davao International Airport (DIA).
The harvests making up the initial batch were from producers in the Davao region and had passed the requirements of the General Administration Customs of China, the PCO said in a statement.
“Under his administration, President Marcos is committed to implement strategies to ensure high-quality fruits for export,” the PCO said, adding that the deal forged three months ago was expected to earn $260 million, or P14.2 billion in revenues, for the local durian industry.
At the DIA, the departure of a Tianjin Air cargo plane carrying durian to Nanning City in China’s Guangxi region on Maundy Thursday was a historic occasion, particularly for the Region 11 office of the Department of Agriculture (DA). Another shipment was loaded on a Philippine Airlines flight for Manila and then transferred to a Chinese airliner also bound for Nanning.
Complete with ceremony
“Today’s (sendoff) ceremonies bring to a successful culmination … our endeavors to capitalize (on) the country’s vigorous and ever-growing market for fresh fruits,” said Assistant Agriculture Secretary Jane Bacayo in a statement.
The DA also cited the role of the Durian Industry Association of Davao City (DIADC) in achieving the milestone in the country’s trade relations with China.
“As we enter the biggest market of the world, the Chinese market, I would like to congratulate and acknowledge one of our longstanding partners, the DIADC, for their effort in contributing to the steadfast development of our durian industry in our country,” said Abel James Monteagudo, the DA regional director.
‘We honor our words’
In a message posted on his social media account on Friday, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian said the two countries “worked day and night to finish all the compliance procedures and make the farmer’s dream come true today! We honor our words to the Filipinos with actual action.”
“Today, I was really touched by the genuine smiles on those farmers’ faces. Glad to see more and more high-quality Philippine durian could be enjoyed by the Chinese people. I believe the durian trade can truly benefit our two peoples!” Huang said.
DIADC president Emmanuel Belviz also underscored the efforts of the two governments and the private sector leading to last week’s first-ever shipments to China, saying: “We are eternally thankful to DA for the constant support and to everyone who contributed to seeing this project through, as this is not the end but the beginning for more opportunities for us and to all the durian growers for a strengthened durian industry.”
Some local producers have been exporting fresh durian to Japan and Singapore. For about four months just before the pandemic, about 300 kilos of the fruit were also sent to the United States to test the American market.
During President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s state visit to Beijing in January, among the bilateral accords signed was a protocol of phytosanitary requirements for durian exports, allowing the entry of up to 50,000 metric tons of the fruit into the Chinese market.
Press Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil earlier said Chinese consumers had acquired “a strong appetite for durian,” noting that the Asian economic giant imported the fruit from Thailand worth $4 billion in 2021, more than triple the total Philippine agricultural exports to China in the same period.
During Marcos’ visit, China pledged to source $2.09 billion worth of fruits, including coconuts and durian, from the Philippines.