Fans of this "king of fruits" which is the size and ovoid shape of a rugby ball revere its sweet and sour flavor and creamy golden flesh.

Fans of the fruit grown in Southeast Asia are particularly numerous in China.

But for its detractors, it is the most stinky fruit in the world, with a persistent smell compared to rotten fruit or dirty socks, which is prohibited in many hotels and public transport in the region.

In an increasingly competitive market, Malaysian agricultural company Top Fruits Plantations has turned to high-tech methods to improve its yield.

Preparation of a durian paste at the facilities of the Malaysian agricultural company Top Fruits Plantations in Batu Pahat, in the state of Johor in southern Malaysia, April 26, 2022 Mohd RASFAN AFP

"It's a much faster way to get more consistent results," said executive director Tan Sue Sian, interviewed by AFP during a visit to his plantations in Batu Pahat, in the state of Johor in the country. South of the country.

The technologies allow farmers to more accurately measure how much fertilizer and water to use for each tree, he notes.

"When you give what is needed, the fruit will be much more regular. The shape will be better and the aroma will improve," adds Mr. Tan, who has been growing durians for about 30 years.

sensor key information

The sensors, placed across 160 hectares, more than half of Top Fruits' farm, provide key information on soil quality and composition, readable by employees on handheld devices.

The sensors, boxes placed on poles, are connected to the ground by cables.

By 2024 the plantation as a whole should be equipped with it.

Farm workers examine a soil sensor at the durian plantations of the Malaysian agricultural company Top Fruits Plantations in Batu Pahat, in the southern Malaysian state of Johor, on April 26, 2022 Mohd RASFAN AFP

Sprinklers connected to a bundle of pipes are activated remotely to supply the trees with water and fertilizer, while drones fly over the plantation to spread pesticides.

These methods were hitherto unheard of in Malaysian plantations where farmers usually rely on a large workforce and their instincts.

Top Fruit has made a substantial investment of around four million ringgits (900,000 USD) over three years to equip itself.

But he saw an increase in yields of some 40% with a reduction in labor of 30%.

The company can now produce 800 tons of durian per year on its plantations, 80% of which is frozen in its factories for export, mainly to China.

The producer of the "king of fruits" conducts further research with a laboratory and collaborates with local universities.

© 2022 AFP