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Import move contradicts food security policy, Kedah consumer group tells govt

Publish date: Fri, 09 Jun 2023, 07:11 PM

ALOR STAR: The government's move to allow imports of poultry and eggs to mitigate the impact of removing subsidies for local chicken and eggs producers by July 1 is not a sustainable solution.

In fact, the Consumers Association of Kedah (Cake) stressed that the move contradicted the country's food security policy.

Its president Yusrizal Yusoff said it was baffling that Malaysia, which had prior to the pandemic being an exporter of chicken and eggs, would have to depend on imports to ensure ample supply for domestic demand.

"As the supply for domestic market is just about stabilising, we allowed chicken and eggs that are produced locally to be exported due to attractive prices abroad.

"At the same time, we are allowing more chicken and eggs to be imported to ensure sufficient supply for domestic market. How does this make sense?" he told the New Straits Times when contacted.

Yusrizal pointed out that under the Food Security Policy 2.0, the government has identified the importance of developing agriculture and poultry breeding system to achieve self-sufficiency.

Thus, the he urged the government to ensure that the matter being addressed first before removing the subsidies.

"Before removing the subsidies, the government should ensure that our poultry farming sector is fully developed to the extend we are able to achieve supply surplus for the domestic market.

"Once the supply is stable and the essential goods are sold at ceiling price and even lower, then only it will be ideal to open our market for imports," he said.

While acknowledging that subsidies are temporary solution, he said the government should focus on encouraging locals especially youths to get involved in chicken farming and eggs production.

Yusrizal stressed that depending on imported chicken and eggs import is not a sustainable solution as its costlier and it would only benefit import permit (AP) holders and cartels.

Citing an example, he said there are 16 chicken producers in Thailand which accredited by the Malaysian Veterinary Services Department and halal certification but the AP holders yet to import the supply because they are pricier compared to chicken produced locally.

"Same goes with eggs. We allow eggs produced in the country to be exported because they fetched better prices but at the same time we are importing eggs from other countries," he said.

Yusrizal aired his concern that the Malaysians would have to pay more for imported chicken and eggs as they are pricier as compared to local production.

"Our grade A eggs are currently sold at about 45 sen each but in neighbouring country like Thailand and Indonesia, eggs in the same grade are sold at 50 to 60 sen each.

"How do we ensure that our consumers will not have to pay more should we depend on imports to meet domestic demand following the subsidy removal come July?" he said.

Hence, Cake urged the Agriculture and Food Security (KPKM) minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu to explain in details what are the mechanisms in place to ensure the price of chicken and eggs would not shoot up after the subsidy removal.

Yusrizal also urged the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry (PKDN) to ensure that there is no supply hoarding by suppliers and traders prior to the subsidy removal.

"We are worried that some unscrupulous traders will be hoarding chicken and eggs in anticipation of higher prices in July to gain quick profit," he said.

Processed chicken are currently sold at a ceiling price of RM9.40 per kg based on subsidies paid by government to stabilise the price.

Yesterday, Mohamad announced that the government will be floating the prices of chicken and eggs from July 1 after the removal of subsidies by the end of the month.

In a written reply, he told Dewan Rakyat that KPDN would then evaluate and control the price of the items compared to the current retail ceiling price.

Mohamad had said the government will allow imports of poultry and eggs from various recognised source countries including Thailand, China, Brazil and Denmark with imports of eggs will only be from Thailand and Ukraine.

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