Thailand aims to promote durian as the key fruit for upscaling green innovation in the agricultural sector to boost its export value, says the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
Agriculture and Cooperative Minister Chalermchai Sri-on told an online conference that durian would be regarded as a "special agricultural product".
He was speaking during the recent Global Action on Green Development of Special Special Agricultural-Products: "One Country, One Priority" (OCOP).
The conference was hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
"Our durian is renowned for its premium quality and its unique fragrance, flavour, taste and texture. It's also listed as a geographical indication (GI) product, helping to add more value to the fruit," Mr Chalermchai told hundreds of participants joining the online conference.
Durian tops Thailand's agricultural product exports with over US$2.9 billion (94.8 billion baht) in value, or 2.5% of GDP. Its growth rate is an impressive 40% each year, he said.
Special Agricultural Products (SAPs) are those with unique qualities and special characteristics associated with geographical locations and cultural heritage, that contribute to ensuring food security and healthy diets, supporting farmers' livelihoods and economic growth, while protecting the environment and its biodiversity.
SAPs include all kinds of agricultural products, recognised as symbolic national or local agricultural products that have not fully benefited from agricultural and rural development programmes.
SAPs also have a huge potential to be integrated into local, regional, and global markets and trade, their advocates say.
Central to the Global Action plan is to promote SAPs through innovation and green development, as well as to enable development for smallholders and family farming production models.
"Today, global food supplies increasingly depend on just a few crops and products. Most agri-food systems have high-input, are resource-intensive and lack integration, optimisation and innovation," FAO director-general, QU Dongyu said.
The aim is to develop green and sustainable value chains for special agricultural products that help small and family farmers reap the benefits of a global market.
The initiative aims to optimise production systems; minimise loss of crop yields and biodiversity; minimise food loss, waste, and misuse of agricultural chemicals; and maximise integrated agricultural profits.
Combined, the objective of these elements is to enable the transition to create more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems. "The transformation of agri-food systems starts by identifying one product or a specific crop," he said.