The season for fruit lovers in Sabah

January 21, 2018 @ 6:16PM
By Olivia Miwil

AN odd phenomenon of fruit ripening is happening across Sabah. But fruit lovers, growers and sellers are not complaining.

Many were relishing the bountiful supply, likely stretched by the weather patterns in the last two years.

The fruit season usually starts around the middle of the year and lasts for about three months.

Since late last month, however, farmers began harvesting high yields of seasonal fruits, such as durian, rambutan, mangosteen and jackfruit, as well as the indigenous tarap and bambangan.

Durian seller Kelly Tseu said business had been good for her in Papar, 50km from Kota Kinabalu.

Tseu sold durians at a competitive rate, but said the low supply during the “first round” of the season had pushed the prices high.

Prices for durians, for instance, ranged from RM10 to RM30 per kg, but it was lower than the prices earlier in the season, she said.

“Native fruits, like bambangan and tarap, however, are still expensive because of the low supply.”

Taraps could fetch up to RM10 each, while bambangan would be about RM5.

Fruit lover Oliver Majaham said he did not mind the hour-long drive to Papar to get his supply because of the lower prices.

Majaham said he would ensure that he had a trolley and cooler box ready to bring the fruits back home.

Teacher Ahmad Izham Daud, meanwhile, said he made it a point to drive along the old Papar Road from his home in Penampang during the weekends to buy fruits.

“There are stalls set up by villagers along the route. They sell fresh fruits at much lower prices compared with that in the city,” he said.

“It’s either that, or I’ll wait for the weekly market in Donggongon, Penampang, where villagers sell their produce.”

In Tenom, farm-themed homestay owner Tham Yau Kong said there had been a rise in the number of people driving to the district to buy fruits.

“The supply is bountiful and the season is a bit odd. This is probably because of the weather patterns.”

Two years ago, the state experienced a prolonged dry season brought by the El Nino phenomenon and this might have delayed or stretched the full bloom in the fruit season, he added.

Tham, however, said though the arrival of fruit lovers were welcome, the presence of middlemen buying in bulk from farmers in far-flung areas could pose a problem.

“This is bad for farmers, who may not get the best rates from middlemen, and consumers, who will pay higher prices once the fruits reach urban areas,” he said.

A mechanism should be put in place to protect farmers from losing out to middlemen, he said.

Fruits lovers willing to travel far and pay more to satisfy their cravings for seasonal fruits. Pix by OLIVIA MIWIL/ NSTP
Fruit sellers say business had been good lately. Pix by OLIVIA MIWIL/ NSTP
Stalls in the old Papar road offer seasonal fruits at lower prices compared with those in the city. Pix by OLIVIA MIWIL/ NSTP
Kelly Tseu selling durians for RM10 per kg. Pix by OLIVIA MIWIL/ NSTP