A Passionate Pharmacist Transforms Abandoned Land into Thriving Durian Orchard


In the picturesque Rueso District of Narathiwat Province, an extraordinary story is unfolding. Amidst the prevailing notion that a degree in agriculture guarantees a career as a farmer, a pharmacist named Mr. Asman Toke has defied expectations. Despite lacking formal agricultural education, he has transformed abandoned farmland into a thriving durian orchard, showcasing his ingenuity and unwavering dedication.

Initially, this land was a neglected rice field, left untouched for an extended period. Spanning an area of 10 rai, it held great potential, albeit hidden beneath the encroaching swamp. To create a suitable environment for fruit cultivation, Mr. Asman hired a backhoe, laboriously digging and sculpting the landscape. Through this labor of love, a water source was established, setting the stage for the growth of various fruits such as durian, fragrant coconut, banana, and jackfruit. As the durian trees matured, additional income was generated from selling bananas, contributing to Mr. Asman’s success.

Among the diverse range of durian cultivars in his orchard, Mr. Asman carefully chose the popular Monthong variety, complemented by other personal favorites such as Lung Laplae, Lin Laplae, and Musang King. However, achieving fruit-bearing out of season proved to be a complex task that required expertise and innovation. Mr. Asman delved into extensive research and experimentation, acquiring new knowledge and techniques to induce off-season blooming. Furthermore, he uncovered the cause of a mysterious infection plaguing his durian trees, tracing it back to an epidemic that had previously afflicted rubber trees in the region.

As a pharmacist employed at Rueso Hospital, Mr. Asman revealed the hidden potential of the abandoned land. Understanding the key factors that promote early fruiting, he emphasized the crucial roles played by water, tree fertility, drought, and fertilization. Watering played a vital role in the durian’s life cycle, with regular irrigation leading up to the flowering stage. However, prior to inducing dehydration for fruit production, the durian leaves had to be meticulously managed to ensure optimal nutrient absorption. This delicate balance facilitated the plant’s readiness to bloom and set the stage for successful reproduction.

Throughout the growth process, nutrient accumulation was crucial. High nitrogen fertilizers nourished the leaves and shoots, aiding in nutrient synthesis and promoting healthy foliage. As the flowering period approached, the fertilizer composition was adjusted to encourage blossoming, ensuring the durian trees thrived. Dispelling the commonly held belief that durians could not be grown in rice fields, Mr. Asman defied expectations by dividing the land into two categories: waterlogged paddy fields and lowland areas where water flowed and could be controlled for irrigation. This strategic approach safeguarded the durian trees from prolonged flooding, a threat that could result in their demise.

In his quest for a bountiful harvest, Mr. Asman encountered two primary diseases that posed a significant challenge to the durian trees. The first, firetopthora, caused rotting and ultimately the death of the durians. Vigilance was required to prevent waterlogging and promptly address any signs of infection. The second disease, caused by bitic fungi, was seasonal and thrived in rainy and humid conditions. Infected trees suffered from leaf loss and eventual death. Immediate action, including cutting and burning affected branches, followed by fungicide treatment, was necessary to prevent further damage.

Mr. Asman’s agricultural endeavors did not stop at the durian orchard. In the past, a devastating leaf drop disease had ravaged rubber plantations, originating in Indonesia and Malaysia before making its way to Thailand’s southern regions. This fungal infection led to dead tissue spots, yellowing leaves, and a significant decline in rubber production. Recently, a similar outbreak had been detected in neighboring durian gardens, raising concerns about a potential cross-infection. To confirm the nature of this threat, Mr. Asman sent samples of infected durian leaves to a laboratory for testing. Remarkably, the treatment that proved effective against the leaf drop fungus in rubber trees displayed promising results in alleviating the symptoms of the durian trees. These findings strongly suggested a connection between the two infections.

Mr. Asman’s dedication, relentless pursuit of knowledge, and transformative efforts have not only yielded impressive results in his durian orchard but also shed light on unconventional farming practices. Challenging the traditional association between education and occupation, he has proven that passion, determination, and an open mind can overcome any perceived limitations. As the seasons change, so too does the landscape of agriculture, and Mr. Asman Toke stands at the forefront of this remarkable evolution.

Deedee Boon
Author: Deedee Boon


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