By Seniorl Anzu
Eight selected clones of durian fruit trees evaluated by scientists at the Keravat-based Lowlands Agricultural Experiment Station (LAES) in East New Britain were officially released for lowland farmers.
LAES is the regional (islands) research station of the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) of PNG.
Smallholder farmers can try these improved materials that bear fruits of good nutritional and economic value and can improve their food security, nutrition and income earning opportunities.
The eight selections were made from over 20 seedling trees evaluated between 1980 and 1992 at LAES. After further assessment over the last 13 years, the durian clones demonstrated outstanding fruit characteristics and performance, and LAES Keravat has distributed them widely in PNG as superior planting materials.
The local selections have had outstanding fruit qualities of yield, taste, flesh and colour. They have been identified as NKDZ5, NKDZ7, NKDZ8, NKDZ9, NKDZ11, NKDZ12, NKDZ15 and NKDZ20.
Suitable for the humid tropics, durian (Durio zibethinus Murr) is well known for the unique smell of the ripe fruit which is unpleasant to many who come across the fruit for the first time. However, the aril, which is the edible part of the fruit, has a distinctive and delicious flavor.
Durian is fast becoming popular and during the fruiting season it is in high demand in supermarkets and local markets. As well as being consumed fresh, durian fruits can be prepared and preserved in a number of ways.
Durian fruits can be boiled as a vegetable, made into jams and desiccated products or processed as a fermented pulp. Durian is also used as flavoring in ice cream and confectionery and its aril can be used in making chips and soups. Young shoots and unripe fruit can be boiled and eaten as a vegetable. Its rind or skin can be dried and used as fuel while the seeds can be eaten when fried in oil, roasted or boiled.
The whole fruit or the aril segments can be preserved for months by freezing or drying.
Nutritionally, the durian pulp is high in total carbohydrates, protein, fats, and vitamins, as well as vitamins B and C. The seeds are high in carbohydrates, oil and protein.
The fruit, which was introduced from South East Asia in the early 1940s, is a low management input crop. It grows and produces well in the humid tropical lowlands at altitudes below 700 meters and where annual rainfall is between 1500 and 2000mm with a 1-2 month dryer period.
The selections on average produce 108–198 kg per year, within the range of average yields of commercial clones in Thailand and Malaysia.
The eight durian selections are of high quality and much superior to those currently grown from seeds. During the fruiting season, fruits from those clones are preferred by buyers. Grafted seedlings from these selected trees are available from NARI Keravat for distribution to anyone in PNG as improved materials.