BETONG: The Sarawak government has allocated RM2.5 million to cultivate Musang King durian to boost the income of the rural community in Betong.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said 1,000 seedlings have been distributed to farmers in the Paku and Beduru areas.
Each family, he said, has been given five seedlings. It is estimated that a properly-cared for tree can produce around 200 fruits per season.
“This is just the start. We aim to plant an estimated 50,000 trees around the Betong parliament constituency, covering Bukit Saban, Krian and Layar.
“In the next five to six years, there may be a bountiful harvest of the much coveted Musang King durian from here,” he said.
Uggah said the programme to cultivate Musang King durian would be able to supplement the income of local farmers who also grow oil palm and rubber trees as well as pepper.
“We chose the Musang King as there is great demand from China.
“Although we have several local species which have the same potential as the Musang King, more research and studies need to be done,” he added.
It is estimated there are about 300,000 mature trees in Sarawak, bearing various local species.
Uggah, who is also the state Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister, said the Agriculture Department will organise a course to rehabilitate old durian trees which are still bearing fruits in the Layar Agriculture Station in December.
The rural folks, he said, had neglected to do proper maintenance on their durian trees, thus resulting in low harvest.
“They would let the trees grow and wait to harvest the fruits. After that, the farmers would leave the trees unattended until the next harvesting season,” he said.
He said the course aims to educate participants on the latest maintenance technology as well as fertilisation knowledge.