Durian Yields in Kuantan remain Low. The Culprit: Bauxite Mining
In some areas of Kuantan the "king of fruits" is now in short supply. Photo Credit: Flickr
A ban on bauxite mining has been in force in Kuantan for almost two years, yet the ravages of unregulated mining throughout 2015 still continue to be felt by several local farmers. A case in point is a poor yield of the area’s famed Besarah durian in this fruiting season.
“[A] durian tree here could produce between 200 and 300 fruits, but now it’s only about 100 fruits and it’s sold for RM35 per kg,” a local farmer, interviewed by the Bernama news agency, lamented. “Five years ago, outsiders, even [people] from Singapore, were willing to contact us to order durians, but it’s not possible as the stock is not sufficient,” he added. “It’s just enough for self-consumption.”
The farmer has faulted the pollution from mining that has tainted the soil of local orchards and the water of local rivers. Roads, too, have been damaged by bauxite mining, he said. “Who would want to go to the orchards if the roads are full of potholes and difficult for normal vehicles to pass? The river water is also no longer clear,” the farmer was quoted as saying. “We are not opposed to development or any activity that can generate income in this village… However, it should be done without affecting the environment.”
Wise words well spoken. We could not have said it better.
Sadly, low durian yields in the area aren’t new. Early last year, shortly after a ban on all bauxite mining was imposed in Pahang, local growers of the “king of fruits” embarked on a two-week-long march on foot to Putrajaya in protest at what they saw as the government’s mishandling of the bauxite mining disaster. Large swathes of arable land in the state had become unusable for plant cultivation because of the toxins that had leached into the soil and water sources, they said.
“My durian trees didn’t fruit last year. Our rivers and the air we breathe are polluted. People have fallen sick,” one durian farmer was quoted as saying. “We will march to submit a memorandum to Parliament,” he noted. “I’m doing this for myself and all future generations to fight for our environment.”
Fight we all must for Malaysia’s environment. As this case shows, short-term economic gains, if done in unsustainable ways, can deal lasting harm to the environment. That’s how durian farmers in Kuantan have become the victims of Malaysia’s unregulated bauxite mining boom.