Excess vegetables have gone down from about 200 MT to 300 MT daily to 90 MT this week
by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by TMR FILE
THE issue of vegetable dumping has been relieved as farmers manage to distribute their produce and turn to e-commerce to improve their sales.
The vegetable oversupply predicament made national headlines recently as growers reportedly were forced to dispose of hundreds of tonnes of the products daily as demands fell due to the Movement Control Order (MCO).
The quandary among farmers in Cameron Highlands, Pahang first caught public attention before similar cases of produce waste reported in other parts of the nation including in Johor and Sabah.
Cameron Highlands Vegetable Growers Association secretary Chay Ee Mong said sales have improved now, attributable to better logistics coordination although worries on demand remain.
“There was confusion on the delivery system at the early stage involving permissions to cross borders, operation schedule and few others. Now, the logistics part is okay and our only worries are on the wholesale market,” Chay told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).
He said wholesale markets, which make the majority of the sales, currently are running with much fewer traders in tandem with lower demand from consumers during the MCO.
As it is, major wet markets in the country such as Kuala Lumpur and Selayang wholesale markets are allowed to remain open under strict guidelines and limited business operations.
Additionally, Chay said vegetable exports to Singapore have also dipped after the neighbouring country implemented its own movement restriction measures.
Still, he said excess vegetables have gone down from about 200 metric tonnes (MT) to 300 MT daily to 90 MT this week as more produce have been managed to be transported to the market despite low demand.
He said between 85% and 90% of production or about 800 MT of leafy vegetables are being sold currently.
Chay said some of the growers, particularly the younger generation who are more Internet savvy, have turned to e-commerce platforms to sell their vegetables.
These, he said, are mostly organic vegetables and consumer inquiries are more specific and not in wholesale form.
Chay said online sales are still small, normally less than 10% of total volume daily as this method is still new in the vegetable market.
He added that government agency, the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA), has intervened to market the products, while many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have come forward to help donate the surplus to the needy.
Bio-Dynamic Agricultural Association of Malaysia chairman Ng Tien Khuan said the selling window is limited due to slowing demand from wholesale markets and supermarkets.
He said farmers have reduced production while going online to sell leafy vegetables which have helped reduce wastage.
“I have not heard of vegetable disposal very much now. Some farmers are growing less, while online sales such as on Lazada have increased,” Ng told TMR.
He said charity efforts by local assemblyman and NGOs are on-going to deliver fresh greens to underprivileged communities including indigenous people and the poors in nearby villages.