Visiting Malaysia

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  • Durian orchard  –  a real treasure trove of biodiversity by SIRA HABIBU         Jitra: Durian pulp in a riot of colours including purple, bright orange and deep red can be found in an orchard not far from the fringes of the Bukit Wang forest reserve in Anjung Lima here. The orchard is a veritable treasure trove of biodiversity as far as durian varieties are concerned. Covering an area just the size of three football fields, it has some 150 trees of 72 varieties of the fruit. Orchard owner Mohd Sofi Ibrahim said he had in his collection 55 state-level champion durian varieties from all over the country as well as 17 wild varieties from the forests of Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Indonesia. Of all these, the 51-year-old avid durian seed collector gives his top vote to the Tenom variety. “It is the most delicious of them all. The colour of the pulp is purple with occasional tinges of orange and dark red. “I was lucky to have come across this wild variety when I was in Sabah years ago,” Mohd Sofi said. Other wild durians found in his orchard include Kura-kura, Anggunang, Alau, Marahang, Pulu Bekenu, Pengiran Limbang, Royal Brunei, Dalit, Pahes and Bunga Simpul.  “Kura-kura is unique. The fruit grows at the bottom of the stem but it doesn’t taste good,” he said.  Mohd Sofi said the Royal Brunei was among the more delicious varieties, while the pulp of the Anggunang was bright orange. “And Pahes does not taste like durian at all. It tastes like the salak fruit,” he said, adding that the pulp of this variety was yellow with tinges of black. Among the state-level durian champions found in the orchard are Cinta Guru from Kedah, Mas Muar (Johor), Tiong Emas (Terengganu), Hor Lor (Penang), Tok Lituk (Kelantan), Basrah (Pahang) and Si Rusa (Negri Sembilan).  Mohd Sofi, who is a retired Bahasa Melayu teacher, has a passion for agriculture and carpentry. “My orchard is my retreat. I find solace here, away from the hustle and bustle of the city,” he said. Mohd Sofi, who also owns a tour company in Alor Star, said he had set up a recreation park near the orchard. “It is a favourite place among school children, especially during school holidays,” he said, adding that the park was suitable for picnics as it boasted a man-made mini waterfall. The durians in his orchard, he added, were not for sale. “But I will be selling durian saplings from next year,” he said.  Ref: