Durian auc­tion go­ers sniff out the most pricey fruit

Bangkok Post - - FRONT PAGE - APINYA WIPATAYOTI­N

>> The world’s nine most ex­pen­sive durian were auc­tioned off yes­ter­day in Non­thaburi to raise funds for an or­phan­age in Pak Kret dis­trict.

One of the kanyao, the king of durian and most ex­pen­sive va­ri­ety, was auc­tioned off for 300,000 baht dur­ing “The King of Durian” char­ity auc­tion. The event was or­gan­ised by the Agri­cul­tural Of­fice of Non­thaburi prov­ince, Pracharak Sa­makkie Com­pany and Cen­tralPlaza WestGate.

Last year, the most ex­pen­sive kanyao went for 210,000 baht.

Som­pong Pisankit­vanich, the owner of Ban Bang Khen restau­rant, of­fered the high­est bid for the kanyao durian yes­ter­day.

This year, the rev­enue of 2.05 mil­lion baht from the auc­tion will go to Ban Rachawadee in Pak Kret dis­trict, with the most ex­pen­sive mon­thong — the most pop­u­lar type among eaters —auc­tioned off for 250,000 baht.

The nine durian, three kanyao and six mon­thong at the auc­tion this year were do­nated by three durian or­chard own­ers in the prov­ince.

All kanyao came from Som­nuek Han­jaithai who grew about 1,000 durian in his four-rai or­chard in Bang Rak Noi com­mu­nity in Muang dis­trict. He do­nated three kanyao and one mon­thong.

Bang Rak Noi was once known to be the largest area for durian plan­ta­tions in Non­thaburi at around 4,000 rai. The big flood in 2011 swept away a large num­ber of durian trees from the or­chards in the prov­ince.

Mr Som­nuek said the se­vere flood was a dis­as­ter for durian or­chard own­ers as the trees are very sen­si­tive and can’t re­sist in­un­da­tion for a long time. His or­chard was among the very few that sur­vived the flood six years ago. He in­vested al­most one mil­lion baht in the soil dyke built dur­ing the flood to pro­tect around 100 va­ri­eties of durian in his or­chard.

It’s widely known that durian from Mr Som­neuk are among the best in the prov­ince. Over 90% of durian have been re­served by clients, mostly high-rank­ing se­nior of­fi­cials and high-in­come earn­ers who want to savour the fruit with mild tex­ture, sweet, but­tery flavour and aro­matic scent.

Or­chard own­ers in the prov­ince be­gan to re­plant durian on over 1,000 rai of land about five years ago. The yield is ex­pected to be higher next year.

But Mr Som­nuek wasn’t wor­ried that more durian from Non­thaburi will hit the mar­ket next year caus­ing prices to drop. His fruit have be­come pop­u­lar and been re­served and sold at 2,000 to 15,000 baht apiece.

Non­thaburi prov­ince has been known as one of the coun­try’s best places to grow durian, thanks to its fer­tile soil from the main Chao Phraya river. How­ever, a large num­ber of durian or­chards have fallen dra­mat­i­cally due to ur­ban ex­pan­sion and the floods in 2011. Fer­tile or­chards have been re­placed by hous­ing es­tates and con­do­mini­ums to serve the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion.

To pre­serve the best area for durian plan­ta­tions, Non­thaburi is set to an­nounce city plan­ning reg­u­la­tions to pre­serve around 1,000 rai in Bang Rak Noi. Con­struc­tion projects will be lim­ited and un­der con­trol, to pre­serve the agri­cul­tural land for durian.

Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Co­op­er­a­tive, 185,000 tonnes of durian were pro­duced in the Eastern re­gion last month, higher than the same pe­riod last year at 110,000 tonnes. The price in the Eastern re­gion has slightly dropped from 75.4 baht per kilo­gramme from last year to 62.83 baht.

THE SMELL TEST: Mod­els show Non­thaburi ‘kanyao’ durian at an auc­tion held at the Durian Fair at Cen­tralPlaza WestGate in Non­thaburi. All pro­ceeds will go to char­i­ties in Non­thaburi.

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