While scrolling through google searches on Vietnamese durian, I was surprised to find several news articles about Dona Techno, a durian factory in Long Khanh, Dong Nai province, that has made shipments of frozen Vietnamese durian to the USA. This was way back in December, before Rob and I had even set food in SE Asia.
Before we arrived in Vietnam, I contacted the owner, Mr. Nguyen Phu Cuong, and asked if he would be willing to meet with Rob and me to talk about his factory. He sent me a very gracious email inviting Rob and me to the factory and on a tour of their durian orchards.
There were some difficulties from the get-go. For one, the Dona Techno website is entirely in Vietnamese, and for once google translator was failing me. I also couldn’t find a translator willing to go to Long Khanh. My contacts at Dona Techno kindly suggested a translation company, but when I called the company they didn’t seem to understand English and never answered my emailed inquiry.
Without a translator and with little knowledge of the company’s details,
I was really nervous going into this interview. Thankfully, Mr. Cuong’s
assistants, Mr. Tri Mai Minh, and Mr. Phan Van Duon, spoke enough
English that we managed to communicate just fine. All three men were
extremely nice, and after answering all our questions, they took us out
for a Vietnamese vegan lunch. This was our first taste of Vietnamese food, as we generally are satisfied with the simpler street fare of fruit, steamed corn or potatoes and of course durian. It was definitely a treat.
|Tidy rows characterize a Dona orchard|
Dona Techno is more a durian supply company than an export factory. They do have the technology for durian packaging and freezing, but have discontinued its use for the time being. For now, the company focuses on providing farmers with pesticides, fertilizers, irrigation equipment, seedlings, and information on how to grow the Dona Durian using the most recent technology.
Unfortunately, I don’t think the USA will be tasting Vietnamese durian
any time soon. The overabundance of Thai durian has driven prices down
so low that it’s actually more profitable to simply sell durian in
Lunch was followed by an invitation to taste some Vietnamese coffee and a sample
of the company’s registered durian: The Dona durian. I enjoyed tasting it, but I was even more pleased to get the chance to add the Dona durian to my post all about Vietnamese durian cultivars (coming soon).
|Durian and Coffee: Vietnam at its best|
Much thanks to Mr. Tri Mai Minh for helping to set up this interview, the director, Mr. Nguyen Phu Cuong for his time and generosity, and Mr. Phan Van Duon for his excellent English.