Vimol Srivichai, owner of a durian orchard, sold 20 durians to Bowdaeng Ratchasing, a visitor from Samut Prakan to his orchard on April 21. The buyer paid 2,000 baht for a combined weight of 80 kilogrammes of the fruit, at 25 baht each.
Mr Bowdaeng cut open the fruit and found that it was unripe so he reported the deception to Klaeng police station. Songtham Chamnan, an official from Agriculture Ministry stationed at Klaeng district office, went to inspect the durians and found that all of them were unripe.
The Rayong court on April 22 sentenced Mr Vimol to prison for 15 days, the first case in Thailand for this type of crime.
Mr Songtham said the case was a good example for durian orchards because selling unripe durians was a deception, a violation of the Consumer Protection Act, for which the penalty included imprisonment and a fine.
Olarn Pitak, director-general of Department of Agricultural Extension, said the department had cooperated with three eastern provinces – Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat – well-known for their fruit production to ensure that orchard owners sell only ripe fruit.
The department has issued a regulation on orchard practices, as selling unripe fruit would damage the reputation of Thai fruits, especially for export.
However, Mr Olarn said there are some orchardists who refused to follow the regulation so seasonal special teams would be sent out to inspect the quality of the fruit during the harvest season.
The durian is normally harvested in April and May of each year. The fruit is popular with Asia. Thailand exported a total of 367,056 tonnes of fresh durian worth 7.34 billion baht in 2013, according to the Office of Agricultural Economics.