A Chinese investment group from Kunming has invested about 700 million baht in establishing a durian processing factory in the lower South, aiming to export one-third of durian produced in the southern border provinces to China.
The presence of this factory is seen as an evidence of the growing durian export market in China.
Xiao Yaoheng, managing director of Manguwang Food Co, said the company, a Thai-Chinese joint venture, is now buying durian from the local growers for freezing and exporting to China.
The company, located in Songkhla’s Thepha district and started operation earlier this month, has about 2 billion baht in working capital, is hiring about 1,200 people to work at the factory and is capable of buying 12,000 tonnes of durian per year, he said.
As for next year, the company aims to raise its durian buying capacity to 20,000 tonnes per year, which will account for one-third of all durian produced in Thailand’s southern border provinces, he said.
Growing durian is a high-paying job in the southern border provinces, said Rear Admiral Somkiat Phonprayoon secretary-general of Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre (SBPAC).
The southern border provinces now have a combined capacity of producing tens of thousands of tonnes of durian per year, he said. This Chinese investor has won an investment privilege from the SBPAC, said Suphit Chitphakdi, director of the Office of Agricultural Research and Development 5 in Songkhla.
The factory is now capable of buying and processing 300 tonnes per day. Producing both freeze-dried durian and quick frozen durian pulp for exporting to China, the factory is buying durian at considerable higher prices than local buyers, he said.
Because almost half of durian fruits from plantations in the lower South normally do not meet the export standards given their smaller sizes than usual, the products then go to processing factories, he said.
In Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat alone, there are about 50,000 rai of durain growing areas, most of which are in highland zones or at the base of a mountain, he said.
The entire lower South has about 150,000 rai of durain growing areas and produces between 120,000 tonnes and 150,000 tonnes of durian per year, he said.