Malaysian agriculture minister Salahuddin Ayub has said there will be policies to monitor and control the flow of foreign capital and the percentage of foreign ownership in local companies involved in the durian industry.
“The state land is managed by the local government, and the central government can draw guidelines for the state government to refer to and implement,” he said, adding it was not easy for foreign investors to come to Malaysia to buy land.
They must enter joint ventures with local companies, if they want to buy land here to grow durians, he said.
The Malaysian Insight reported previously that Malaysia was cutting down more rainforest to plant Musang King durians, which are in high demand in China.
More and more local farmers are expanding their small orchards to major farms in order to meet the demands for the prized fruit.
A Protection of the Natural Heritage of Malaysia (PEKA) spokesman said rampant deforestation in Malaysia was caused by the demand for durian plantations.
However, Mr Salahuddin said the situation was under control.
“The control of land in each state is under the jurisdiction of the state government, and each state has a planned forest reserve. I believe that it will not open up the cultivation of durians.”
Dinghao Fruit director Chen Shuxian, who has farmed and exported durians for many years, told The Malaysian Insight that foreign investors were not allowed to buy land for durian crops.
One reason Chinese investors are put off is the long gestation period.
Mr Chen said it normally takes 8-10 years for durian trees to mature and most Chinese investors do not have the patience to wait.
“Chinese people don’t know about durian planting and investors want to see instant returns.”
He said that in recent years, many Chinese companies have invested in Malaysia, mainly in co-operation with local companies.