Farmers demand long-term solution to vegetable dumping


Diyana Ibrahim

Farmers say there is a lack of control over the import of vegetables, especially from Thailand and China, leading to oversupply and dumping. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 24, 2023.

PUTRAJAYA must offer long-term solutions to the problem of vegetable dumping by local growers, largely caused by oversupply because of imports from China and Thailand, farmers said.

They said this was a recurring issue for them.

All of the solutions offered by the authorities so far have been ineffective, they told The Malaysian Insight.

One such affected farmer is Suhaimi Mat Isa, 47, who grows eggplants and fragrant melons in Durian Tunggal, Malacca.

He said demand from wholesalers started to drop after the Chinese New Year in February.

The situation became critical at the beginning of this month, forcing them to throw away almost 30 baskets of eggplants.

“We had to throw away the eggplants. We couldn’t leave them unpicked as that would damage the plants. The usual wholesalers just did not come.

“We had no choice but to throw away our produce,” he said.

Suhaimi said representatives of the Federal Agricultural Marketing Board (Fama) had visited his farm and offered to buy the vegetables after seeing a video of him throwing away his eggplants.

But that did not address the root of the problem. he said.

Suhaimi said there was a lack of control over the import of vegetables, especially from Thailand and China.

The situation is exacerbated by the large-scale production of vegetables in Cameron Highlands, he said.

“Even when Fama comes to buy, it is at the lowest price. Usually our farm price is around 80 sen per kilo, and we get even lower than that (from Fama).

“But it’s okay, as long as we don’t lose too much. Our only request is that there is a long-term solution,” he said.

He said the government must set a quota for imports.

“We are not asking the government to cancel (imports) but we want a more organised system, control over imported vegetables and for the supply to be monitored so that farmers can be prepared,” he said.

Last month, about 500 farmers in Tanah Tinggi Lojing near Gua Musang said they had to throw away thousands of tons of unsold vegetables.

They said there was an oversupply when local vegetable production increased at the end of the monsoon season while Thai and Chinese imports also grew.

This caused the price of local vegetables to drop 3-60% in February.

Farmers were also forced to dump their produce during the Covid lockdown in 2020, when 60% of vegetable and flower crops in the Lojing Highlands could not be sold.

Kelantan farmers say they have had to throw away thousands of tonnes of unsold vegetables. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 24, 2023.

Priority for local farmers

A chilli seller in Pekan, Siti Nurul Huda Sheh Anwar, said prices are low because of oversupply.

“Chilli normally costs RM20-30 per kg. But because of oversupply, the wholesaler wants to push the price to below RM15 per kg. This means we lose a lot because we have costs such as fertilisers and seeds,” she said.

Siti Nurul and her husband have been cultivating chillies since 2020.

Because of the pandemic, Siti Nurul and her husband had decided to stop working in Kuala Lumpur and have since moved to a village.

“As farmers we face challenge due to the increase in input costs. Although the chilli crop yields RM10,000 per season season, which is in four months, the estimated input cost is RM5,000.

“So we are left with RM5,000 to live on. Sometimes we don’t take a salary for our work,” she said.

Vegetable wholesaler Mamat Embong, who trades at Pasar Chabang Tiga in Kuala Terengganu, said he has stopped buying Japanese cucumbers from Cameron Highlands as he wanted to support the local farmers.

“Local entrepreneurs are our priority because we have always dealt with them. Most of the wholesalers in the Chabang Tiga market do not get our supplies from elsewhere. There is enough to meet demand. 

“Because we don’t buy from elsewhere, there is no issue of vegetable dumping in Terengganu,” he said.

The Malaysian Insight has contacted Fama director Aminuddin Zulkifli and is still waiting for a response. – May 24, 2023.


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Comments


  • What can Malaysian farmers do to compete against imports from China and Thailand? Reduce costs, increase yields? If the farmers in China and Thailand can do it, why can't we? Having import quotas will just increase the cost of living for Malaysians.

    Posted 1 year ago by Yoon Kok · Reply