Thai durian farmers prepare to face China’s zero-Covid-19 policy at the border, again

A group of Thai dancers go to work on a durian farm in Rayong, after losing employment during the pandemic in 2020. Credit | Daily News

Durian growers in Thailand are preparing for stringent import checks with their biggest buyer — China, as the country continues to enforce its zero-Covid-19 policy at the border.

Last year, Thailand exported more than 875 thousand tonnes of its pungent yellow fruit to China by land, sea and air, generating an estimated 3.4 billion USD, according to the Department of Agriculture.

This year, Thai farmers hope to increase their exports as they expect larger harvests, but China’s continued enforcement of a strict covid policy threaten to derail the season’s high expectations.

Currently, land transport by truck is the most common method of export. But if Covid-19 is detected at the border, durian goods could be destroyed and the border closed for days or even weeks.

Farmers have already felt the sting, when last year an estimated tens of thousands of tonnes of durian were spoiled.

This year the Thai government is looking to join its neighbour Laos in exporting produce via the new China-Laos high speed railway, which connects the capital of Vientiane to the Chinese city of Kunming in the southwest province of Yunnan.

According to the Thai Durian Association, one train could transport between 35 to 50 containers of the spiky fruit.

Durian season beings in March each year, peaking in mid-May and June, before eventually ending in December.


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