Thailand made it through much of 2020 relatively unscathed by the pandemic, until an outbreak in December - tied to a seafood market southwest of Bangkok - sparked a second wave of infections. The country is now in the grips of a third Covid surge that began last month at an upscale entertainment venue in the capital.
Durian growers are worried about what this could mean for Thailand’s durian exports to China. One grower pointed to the social media scare surrounding Chilean cherries that sent prices of that fruit tumbling earlier this year, after a regional health authority in China issued a circular saying that tests on imported cherries had revealed coronavirus contamination.
“Now I am very worried that China might find the Coronavirus in any of the durian containers. That would mean a total ban of the fruit from Thailand,” she said. “The Covid-19 situation in Thailand is serious now and I don’t want any risk during the inspections at port.”
According to the latest commerce ministry figures, Thailand’s fresh durian exports increased 259 per cent year on year in January and February, despite exports in general hitting a six-year low in 2020. Fresh durian exports to China, meanwhile, recorded a 497 per cent year-on-year increase in the first two months, the figures show. Thailand exported 575,000 tonnes of durian fruits to China last year.