Source: Statistics Department, Malaysia
Inflation may have dropped to 3.9 per cent in January 2009 in line with the fall in consumer demand and the end of the commodity price bubble. But even though the agriculture commodity bubble has burst, food prices remain high with the consumer price index showing a 9.8 per cent rise in January for food. (The food and non-alcoholic beverages component contributes over 80 per cent of the 3.9 per cent rise in the CPI index.) Imagine, the index for rice, bread and other cereals has shot up by 18 per cent.
According to the Statistics Department, the 9.8 per cent increase in the food index is the result of “increases for Food At Home (11.0 per cent); Food Away From Home (8.6 per cent) and Coffee, Tea, Cocoa & Non-Alcoholic Beverages (4.2 per cent). Among the subgroups of Food At Home which showed significant increases during this period were Rice, Bread & Other Cereals (18.0 per cent); Fish & Seafood (11.8 per cent); Meat (10.4 per cent); Vegetables (9.0 per cent) and Milk, Cheese & Eggs (8.0 per cent)”.
Isn’t it time we take another look at our agriculture and fisheries policies to ensure sufficiency, sustainability and food security while eliminating profiteering among middlemen and large corporate retailers? It is not the small-scale farmers and fisherfolk who are reaping huge profits.