Let them smell durians: Deputy minister suggests premium fruit to lure agro tourists

Opalyn Mok
Lindsay Gasik opening the 'hor lor' durian for guests to taste in Karuna Hill, Balik Pulau July 14, 2018. — Pictures by KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, July 15 — Penang durian farmers could take a leaf from Japanese rock melon farmers to boost agro-tourism in Malaysia, Sim Tze Tzin said.

The deputy agriculture and agro-based industries minister suggested the durian farmers capitalise on the growing global love for the pungent thorny fruit by developing premium ones that can only be enjoyed domestically.

“The Japanese kept their premium rock melon in Japan and only export other common varieties so if you want to try the premium rock melon, you have to go to Japan to try it,” he said.

Sim said Penang durian farmers can export the more common varieties of durians but keep a few premium types only in Penang.

“This can attract people to come here to eat the premium durians and spur agro-tourism,” he said.

The Bayan Baru MP said he will be working together with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik on how to promote agro-tourism in Penang.

Sim, who was at the book launch of The Durian Tourist’s Guide to Penang by Lindsay Gasik here yesterday, also commended the American durian expert for compiling the comprehensive book.

“This book is timely to tell the world about Penang’s durians and I hope local writers can follow in her footsteps to produce similar books to promote our durians,” he said.

Sim said he plans to work with Gasik and durian farm owners to create a map of all the places to eat durians in Penang.

He said the map will cover both the island and mainland and ideally has the locations of all the durian farms on it.

“This will be good for durian tourists who come here to hunt for durians and it will also promote our durians,” he said.

Gasik held a three-hour durian tasting session in conjunction with her book launch at Karuna Hill in Balik Pulau yesterday.

She explained the history and stories behind 23 types of durians available in Penang.

Farm owners were also invited to explain the stories behind the creation of their durian hybrid and how to distinguish the different types of durians.

The Durian Tourist’s Guide to Penang is available for purchase only at yearofthedurian.com