Fewer pomelos for Chinese New Year due to haze and rain

A stall selling pomelos at a Chinese New Year bazaar in Chinatown.
A stall selling pomelos at a Chinese New Year bazaar in Chinatown.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

IPOH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Last year's harvest of pomelo fruit in Malaysia has dropped by almost half due to the haze and rainy season, with fewer fruits being sold in the market.

With a significant drop in harvest, prices are expected to go up by 10 per cent.

Pomelo farm owner Chin Too Kam said the shortage also caused a drop in exports.

"We've greatly reduced the number of fruits for export and are now catering to the local market.

"We want to ensure the locals and our regular customers are still able to get the fruit especially for the Chinese New Year celebration," he said.

Mr Chin, who is also Tambun Pomelo Growers Association chairman, said the hazy weather that affected the country about seven months ago had stunted the growth of the fruits.

"Following the hazy season, the torrential rainfall also affected the pollination and this further affected the yield," he added.

"With fewer fruit to sell, we are expecting pomelo sellers to be affected by a drop in sales," he said, adding that the fruit could fetch good prices during Chinese New Year.

"Despite the drop in the produce, the quality of fruit sold in the market is still high," he said.

He added that the buying power of consumers have also weakened due to the global economic outlook.

"With an expected slight hike in prices, most sellers expect businesses to be slow," he said, adding that one fruit could fetch up to RM23 (S$7.70), depending on its size.

Mr Chin said the pomelo was a good gift to be presented to friends and relatives during Chinese New Year. The pomelo, or look yau as it is called in Cantonese, symbolised prosperity.

"The word look sounds like rolling, which means incoming and yau means have.

"Both words combined means abundance," he said, adding that the fruit was often used in prayers during the festivities.

A pomelo seller, who only wanted to be known as Ng, said business was still slow with about two weeks to go for Chinese New Year.

"We hope business will pick up soon. I think most will buy the fruits at the eleventh hour," he said.

Most sellers relied on tourists on normal days.

"On and off, I get tourists from Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, but they can't buy a lot because they can't bring these past the customs checkpoint at the airport," he said.