by S BIRRUNTHA & NURUL SUHAIDI / Pic by TMR FILE
THE government must immediately resolve the problem of cost pressures among chicken breeders to ensure that the country always has enough supply of livestock.
In a statement today, DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke Siew Fook said the shortage of chicken supply is believed to have resulted from reduced production as farmers had to pay higher costs for chicken feed.
“The policy of setting ceiling prices for chicken as a controlled commodity should be strengthened as the rising cost of living is the biggest pressure for most Malaysians.
“However, the government must also ensure that farmers and the entire chicken supply chain do not suffer losses and are able to cover the extraordinary cost increases,” he said.
He argued that although the Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry (MAFI) has allocated RM528.52 million for a subsidy of 60 sen per kg, this rate needs to be reviewed in line with the pressure of high chicken feed costs.
“The subsidy assistance should be implemented and channelled to farmers immediately without bureaucracy,” he stressed.
Not only that, he said the government’s approach to abolishing the Approved Permits requirement to import food is not a “silver bullet” formula that will solve the problem of rising food prices which can ensure supply is not interrupted.
Loke added that it is important to remember that each country is dealing with its own domestic food security challenges, and the major producing countries will prioritise their own needs before others.
“Adding further, given the weak value of the ringgit, any food imports from other countries will involve higher purchase prices,” he said.
On that note, Loke urged that it is important to open up land immediately to cultivate grain for a steady supply of chicken feed.
Meanwhile, to address the pressing issues, the weekly Cabinet meeting was brought forward from Wednesday to today to allow for discussions on pressing issues.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri said the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and MAFI had been instructed to give a presentation on their short-term and long-term plans to mitigate the rising costs and supply issues.
“We will not only focus on the issue of chicken supply but also on our cost of living which we predict will increase. This is a global phenomenon due to the Russia-Ukraine war.
“Both countries produce one-third of the world’s wheat and I was also informed that some countries have halted their exports for their own use. So, looking at economic theory, if we have more demand than supply, the price of goods will increase.
“During the Cabinet meeting, we will specifically look at means to mitigate the rising prices of goods.
“Both ministries will present their plans because if the war continues, it will leave behind long-term effects,” he said after launching the International Symposium on Bahasa Melayu at Wisma Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka yesterday.
Malaysia imports about 60% of its food needs, including wheat and corn used to feed chickens, and with the war between Russia and Ukraine, this has been affected by high import prices.
It was also previously reported that a group of cartels in the poultry industry had suspended their operations over the weekend due to the government’s delay in providing subsidies.
However, traders have expressed that the boycott had little effect because the chicken supply was already tight and they had no choice but to raise prices to keep the business alive.