The rambutan tree is an evergreen tree growing up to 12–20m tall. Like all exotic tropical fruits, rambutan are labour intensive, as they require regular fertiliser, irrigation and pruning in order to maximise yields.
Australian annual rambutan production is estimated at 750 tonnes, with a gross value of AU$6 million. Around 75% of Australian production takes place in far north Queensland, with the remainder in the Northern Territory.
In 2000, Australian rambutan growers gained access to the Japanese market, where fresh rambutan is considered a luxury item. In recent years, Australian rambutan exports to Japan have declined to almost nothing, due to low Australian production caused by cyclone damage in 2006 and 2011 and the strength of the Australian dollar.
Importation of fresh rambutan into Australia is not permitted, however imported canned rambutan is available in Australian supermarkets.
Rambutan seedlings were introduced to tropical north Queensland in the 1940s and commercialised in the early 1970s. The industry is small and still developing, and its interests are represented by individual growers in north Queensland and by NT Farmers in the Northern Territory.
Facts and figures
- Rambutan is an exotic tropical fruit closely related to the lychee and longan
- It is grown from Cooktown to Tully, along the wet tropical coast, in far north Queensland and in rural areas surrounding Darwin in the Northern Territory
- Annual production is estimated at 750 tonnes with a gross value of AU$6 million
- Rambutan are considered a labour intensive crop
- Most rambutan growers have an alternative income source, either on or off-farm
Australian rambutan production is estimated to be 750 tonnes, with a gross value of AU$6 million. Around 75% of Australian production takes place in northern Queensland, with the remainder in the Northern Territory. Rambutan production in Queensland was affected by cyclones Larry in early 2006 and Yasi in 2011, which destroyed many trees.