KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysia plans to end subsidies for chicken and egg farmers on Aug 31, though it will retain an export ban on poultry until supplies stabilise, Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Ronald Kiandee told parliament on Thursday (Aug 4).
Malaysia, which supplies live chickens mainly to neighbouring Singapore and Thailand, in June halted exports until production and prices stabilise.
The move came after a global feed shortage exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war disrupted production.
Dr Kiandee had previously said the decision on the export ban will be reviewed after the stabilising measures end on Aug 31.
On Monday, he said his country now has a slight oversupply of chicken following the export ban.
He had said local chicken prices have kept below the government-mandated ceiling of RM9.40 (S$2.90) per kilogram and the industry's supply and inflation issues have been resolved, opening up the possibility of Malaysia lifting its export ban.
Opposition lawmaker Wong Shu Qi on Thursday criticised the ban, saying it had forced Malaysia’s buyers to purchase chicken from other sources.
In response, Dr Kiandee justified the ban, saying it was temporary and that similar protectionist steps had been taken by other countries facing food shortages.
“When conditions are stable – not just oversupply in a few locations, but all across the country – of course, the government will make a decision to allow exports,” he said.
The government had approved 1.1 billion ringgit (S$339 million) in subsidies for chicken and egg farmers to help them face a rise in feed costs and the loss of export revenue, he said.
Prior to the export ban, Malaysia, which exported 3.6 million chickens a month, was Singapore’s second-largest source of imported chicken after Brazil.
Malaysia supplied about a third of Singapore's chicken, which translates to close to 73,000 tonnes a year.
Malaysia's export ban was partially lifted following a Cabinet decision on June 8, allowing the export of live kampung and black chickens to Singapore.
The export ban meant Singapore had to diversify its food sources and import chickens from other neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Thailand.
On July 13, Indonesia started delivering frozen chicken to Singapore.
The first shipment delivered as much as 50,000kg of frozen chicken - worth 2 billion rupiah (about S$185,000).
The shipment came after the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) approved Indonesia as Singapore's new source of frozen, chilled and processed chicken meat on June 30.
There are also plans to have a new farm up and running in Batam to supply fresh chicken to Singapore, if there is healthy demand over the next year.
Mr Suryo Pratomo, the Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore, had said on July 21 that he has talked to some producers in Indonesia who are looking into setting up the farm.
They hope to have an understanding of the demand in Singapore by next year so that they can determine if they should set up a farm, he said.