Malaysia–– KUCHING: The state Agriculture Department has been challenged to come up with a proposal on how best to enhance the activities of pollinating insects under stress conditions posed by the annual haze.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu said pollinator insects were not very active during the haze season and this had resulted in low fruit settings in farms and orchards throughout the state.
He said although the flowers of fruit trees were bountiful, the pollination process was not because the haze had somehow caused the pollinator insects to be less active.
Jabu, who is Rural Development and Modernisation of Agriculture Minister, urged the Agriculture Department propose a project to overcome the problem.
If you can take the challenge and present to me a project paper, I will support the research project and acquire funds for it to be carried out even if it takes a number of years to do, he added.
He noted that the haze had actually caused a lot of difficulties over the past decade not only to members of the public but also to fruit farmers.
This year although there were plenty of fruit trees flowering particularly the durian, it coincides with the heavy haze occurrence to the extent that the fruit settings have been very much reduced.
I believe this is due to the haze. The pollinators like the bees and other insects are not very active, therefore less pollination is taking place, he said at the official launch of the Agriculture Department Research Officers Conference 2012 here yesterday.
Jabu said the department needed to come up with effective measures to ensure that fruit farmers would not be deprived of their income by the haze.
He noted that the haze phenomenon appeared to be getting worse and beyond control of the Government.
This, he explained, had been causing a lot of disappointment among fruit farmers, particularly durian farmers.
Jabu urged the Agriculture Department to also come up with effective marketing strategy for durians.
He noted that of late there had been a craze for the king of fruits in the international market, but due to some rules and regulations it was difficult to promote the fruit beyond the states shores.
Durian is a very interesting fruit. Based on my experience in the Peninsula, durians are marketed aggressively overseas. It is marketed overseas by means of vacuum sealing of three layers of plastic to contain the smell, which in the past could not be done and difficult to export through commercial aircraft.
But until now hotels do not allow its guests to bring in durian. Hotels are frequented by many overseas visitors but durian has been forbidden from entering the premises, said Jabu.
He said this situation needed to change so that more people would know durian and love it.
Therefore hotels are not good marketing strategies for durians. But if you (Agriculture Department) can convince the hotels that there are ways to bring in durians where it could be friendly to consumers and hotel operators, than I would also like you to think about it as my second challenge.
Also we need to convince the Tourism Ministry not to punish our king of fruits because the Musang King (a type of durian species) in the Peninsula is exported to China with a high price tag of about RM80 per kilogramme, he added.