History of durian cultivation in Thailand


Origin of durian
The common durian (Durio Zibethinus Murr.) is a tropical fruit with its origin in Borneo or Sumatra and probably around Peninsular Malaysia, the southern part of Thailand, Western Malaysia. It is now widely grown in many countries which are not indigenous to.


History of the name durian
Durian is a Malay and Indonesian name. The root comes from the word "Duri" which means spine. Durian has a strong offensive odour, which Murray, who first described the species, compared with that of the civet cat (Zibethinus). Hence, the scientific name of durian means "the spiny fruit that has an overpowering smell". For Thais, it is called "Turian". This is the same name used by local people in different parts of Sumatra such as Tapah and the growers of Salang.


History of durian cultivation in Thailand
1. The earliest story of durian in Thailand is in a chronicle recorded by a Frenchman named De La Loubere over 300 years ago. De La Loubere came to Thailand in 1687 during the Ayutthaya period in the reign of King Narai the Great. He mentions the cultivation of durian in the central region of Thailand during this time. It is presumed that its original growing area was in the South which has the same climate as Malaysia.
2. When durians were introduced to the central region during the Ayutthaya period, the strains were regularly improved as the country and the Thai social system promoted and partly forced everyone to improve his crop. It is known that in the past there was a duty collected on durian. Until the Rattanakosin period, durian was an important crop in Thonburi Province, part of Bangkok Metropolis now, and spread to Nonthaburi Province. The keeping and growing were systematic with constant improvement, so durian in Thonburi and Nonthaburi were mostly of good varieties.
3. However, many good varieties were wiped out during the heavy flood of Bangkok, Thonburi and Nonthaburi in 1875 and 1942. Durian trees were destroyed and scarcely replanted. Growing urbanization saw the felling of durian orchards for construction of buildings and roads.
4. When transportation among the provinces became more convenient, there was construction of roads linking the central part with other regions. It spread the good durians to Chanthaburi Province in the eastern part replacing the local varieties. The replanting of local-poor varieties to superior varieties from Bangkok began commercially from 1957. Durians in Chanthaburi were a success and grew much faster until it is now the leading province for durian production. The plantations spread to nearby province such as Rayong, Trat and Prachin Buri provinces.
5. During 1962-1963 a number of durian strains from Thonburi and Nonthaburi were introduced to the South replacing the local varieties destroyed by a hurricane in 1952. The promotion of cultivation of good durians in the South was continuous, and the best and most successful one is Monthong.
6. Nowadays, the major growing areas are in the East seconded by the South. The central region still plants them in the original area, but the cultivation is nominal. In the northern region, the local variety is grown in Uttaradit Province.

The greatness of durian in the past
Thai people love to eat durian, and this tradition has been passed on from generation to generation. This can be seen from the duty collected on durians in the Ayutthaya period of 1687 when the government imposed a duty of one half baht per tree per year. If a durian tree died, the owner had to replant it so the government would not lose the revenue. In 1854 during the third reign of Rattanakosin, the government raised the duty to one baht per tree, while mango, mangosteen, jackfruit trees only paid a quarter of one baht.


Special thanks to Mr. Piroj Polprasid for the information on the history of durian cultivation in Thailand.