IPOH - The year-end monsoon season has affected the production of vegetables in Cameron Highlands, causing prices to soar by as much as 50 per cent, say farmers.
Cameron Highlands Vegetable Growers Association secretary Chay Ee Mong said low pollination and temperatures had affected the production of vegetables.
It has been raining in the highland over the last few days, and such weather usually creates a prolonged impact on vegetable production.
“Most times it is cloudy, and the low production has caused the price of some vegetables to increase.
“Depending on the types of vegetables, the price increase is easily between 30 per cent and 50 per cent,” Mr Chay said.
He said the vegetables expected to see a price hike include tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies, beans, capsicum and selected leafy vegetables.
However, he said consumers could choose 80 other types of leafy vegetables that were still priced low, such as spinach and cabbage.
“But for tomatoes, cucumbers and chillies, there is no substitute and their price increase is inevitable as plant growth is slow,” he added.
He said vegetable production would usually return to normal by the end of January once the weather settled.
Mr Chay also said that the farmers were still affected by a labour shortage and hoped that the authorities would look into the problem soon.
Demand for eggs has also been rising.
Agriculture and Food Industry (MAFI) secretary-general Haslina Abdul Hamid said that it is normal for a high demand for eggs at this time of the year, but the problem is usually offset with early preparations and planning since September.
“At the National Council of Cost of Living (Naccol) meeting with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, on Sunday, MAFI presented the (supply) situation on the seven controlled items, including eggs. We have no shortage on premium eggs which are not controlled items, but there is a shortage on graded eggs A, B and C.
“However, this time around, there was a sudden surge as consumers are suddenly eating out more and there is more demand for Grade A, B and C (eggs).
“In September, we discussed production issues with egg producers, whose main request was that we relook the subsidy given to them – which is 10sen – as their cost of production has increased.
“The decrease in our currency also lowered their profits, as most of the proteins fed to layer chickens are imported.
“We have looked at (feed) alternatives, but these alternatives such as planting corn take up to eight months. We cannot resolve these problems immediately,” said Ms Haslina.
She also said that the farms that export and those that produce for local consumption are different, as the eggs for export to Singapore have high specifications which not every farm can meet.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) secretary-general Azman Mohd Yusof said that the shortage of eggs is not in all parts of the country, but in locations where there is a demand surge.
He said: “We understand that there is a shortage from the farms itself but despite that, we will take action against anyone who raises the prices of Grade A, B and C eggs as these are controlled items. If we find that there are states with no eggs at all, we then request that other states with extra stock to help out.
“I have ordered that there be more enforcement checks by KPDNHEP personnel to ensure that there is no profiteering. The pictures on social media of heaps of eggs being sold out immediately is a common occurrence when there are pocket surges.
“However, I ask that consumers posting these (images) on social media be specific as to where this is happening and if there is profiteering, (so that) we can take action.” THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK