The RM1.20 tomato


Friend of mine bought a tomato for RM1.20 at the Tanjung Bunga market.

Now you would think a RM1.20 tomato would have to be pretty special.

No, this was just a little tomato, not even big and juicy.

Unlike ordinary tomatoes that would rot in a few days if left in the open, this one could keep for a while. Makes you wonder.

If a tomato could cost RM1.20, imagine the prices of other fruit and vegetables. The question is, how are the lower-income group coping? As food prices soar, as real wages remain stagnant and as overtime pay is slashed, many among the working class are struggling to put food on the table for their families – while some of our leaders squander our nation’s resources and their spouses go on shopping sprees abroad.

Back in school, we were taught that the three essentials of life are food, shelter and clothing. Let’s focus on item one on the list.  While we have grand NKRAs and common frameworks, what are we doing about the price of vegetables?

In the name of (misguided) “development”, we have lost the vegetable farms in our towns. Now, we have to bring in vegetables from farther away – Cameron Highlands, China, Australia and elsewhere – some of them perhaps genetically modified or laced with pesticides and preservatives, who knows.

This is not only bad news for food self-sufficiency and sustainability and security, but the loss of food security also makes us vulnerable to the global food crisis. Worse, the transportation of food from great distances to our dining tables is a major contributor to global emissions.

What could be done: open up unused or idle state land, now filled with undergrowth, and make that available for sustainable organic or permaculture farming. Encourage and support small farmers. Urge households not to cement their lawns and instead grow some food in their gardens or even in their apartment common spaces, corridors and balconies.

Every bit helps. Remember, we can’t eat microchips.

Blog reader My Blog adds:

Anil, I also go to the Tanjung Bungah market. Earlier red chilies use to cost RM5 per kilo when the supply was less, last week it was RM10 per kilo, week before last RM12 per kilo. All vegetables have drastically gone up in price. I talk to the vegetable seller, he just smiles and says ‘apa boleh bikin, semua sudah mahal’, not even saying it is expensive because of rains etc which means temporary.

High cost of living is here to stay, even if gormen change, the damage is already done. Tomato not so expensive lah, if I am not wrong about RM5 or 6 per kilo. You can buy for use today or a bit less ripe which you can use for several days, if put in the fridge can last 1-2 weeks.

Fruits, again even banana and papaya also expensive, I bought a large bunch of banana and 1 medium size papaya already cost me about RM12 and I wanted a watermelon, when I heard the price, I told him it is okay, can do without.

It is bad times for me like many others, so even few dollars makes the difference. If the gormen keeps up with its badly thought out policies, I envisage it getting worse. If they offer me land, I will start a vegetable farm…

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Anil Netto

New blog post: The RM1.20 tomato

Freie Mediale S.

The RM1.20 tomato « This is not only bad news for food self-sufficiency, sustainability and security and

Freie Mediale S.

The RM1.20 tomato « This is not only bad news for food self-sufficiency, sustainability and security and


Why should food be cheap? the real price of farmed produce must correspond to the standard of living of the farmer.


Dear Anthony Louis, I work for a German company and I visit our Frankfurt head office twice a year. I’ve been doing that for several years. I’m aware that people grow their own vegetables, service their own cars, repair their own roof, pave their own driveway, etc. I’m also aware that people leave their office at 5pm sharp (thereabouts), enjoy 30 days annual leave a year, not have to work overtime on weekdays or weekends (if they don’t want to). AND even if they chose to work overtime, there’s a Works Council in every company that may decide to REJECT… Read more »


Hi Anil, The PR has many more people from the labour movement than the BN. They are more likely to push for policies that are fairer to labour. For eg. Syed Shahir who is the MTUC president is a high-ranking member of PKR. It will take time to change but in my opinion, there is higher likelihood that there’ll be changes if (or rather, when) PR takes over. Having said that, it’s not just about not working overtime. The quality of life in Germany is a direct result of not having corruption, working hard and working efficiently (without necessarily having… Read more »


I think if we aerate the water that goes to water our vegetables, they will grow better.

It’s probably the reason why vegetables grow fast and healthy in hydroponics.

Aeration is cheap and easy.
Go buy a air pump (for fish tank type) and attach a sponge at the tube outlet so that large air bubbles are broken up into smaller ones for better aeration.

You may also aerate your own urine and use that as fertiliser.

anthony louis

hello malaysians, I live in germany .You guys will be suprised how many people grow their own veges in their homes and the share them with their neighbours.And the prices of veges is far far cheaper than that in penang. Dont complain , just do it.


The solution is simple. Reject BN. Ban the money changers. Ensure that the money that go out of the country are properly documented. Make the crooks who wire out ill-gotten or legally gotten money answerable. Make them return the money or put them in prison. When jet engines disappear, don’t go after the junior officers. The minister should take the responsibility and resign. Bring all corrupted politicians to court but first of all ensure that the court is not kangarooed. Tell those from MACC to go after the big fish and not the fries. Looks like there is no case… Read more »

Gerakan K

What can the Pakatan offer to us? Beer ban? They even can not agree to form a formal coalition. There is reservation by PAS President. With BN there is NKRA for us which is so promising.


Gerakan K, What NKRA? NCRA? FYA? PKM? PGST? NFA is the most understandable by all Malaysians! You can continue to send your children to do computer science and whatever and survive on microchips. So shallow is your mentality, ( I am sorry, bro), one must be self sufficient in food before we use the herd mentality and follow blindly and talk about industrialization, without knowing what is in store. You talk a lot of computer and so forth, but, can we be as good and as competitive as the Indians? Again, please comment to the point la, bro. Please do… Read more »

Gerakan K

India used to be the main outsource destination for US based corporation because of low-cost factor. But due to widespread acknowledgement of poor command of English (English with heavy Indian dialect which is worse than Manglish/Singlish), poor attitude problem (disaster customer service) and emergence of new players from other countries. Now less and less US corporations choose India as their outsource partner and now US President also banning any outsource work to India (based some criteria). Finally, you keep asking is Malaysia as good and as competitive as the Indians and my response is please check our previous GDP breakdown… Read more »


You are sadly mistaken and terribly misinformed, don’t even try to start to compare against India. You are nobody and nowhere.

Your Manglish and other forms of English can only be understood in Malaysia and nowhere else.

Do you think before writing or just simply a loose canon.

Gerakan K

My staff experienced that personally. Not once but everytime. They need help from other Indian staff to interpret the recorded trouble-shooting phone call with the India based **senior support manager** regarding to my ERP system. To make the matter worse, they charge me US$150/hour that lasted 2 hours!!!


Gerakan K, It saddened me to always need to enlighten you each and every time you pose your comment or reply. Just name one Malaysian owned Company that is competing globally with their own brands in this so called high end, value added economy? Please do not quote MNCs again because they are not Malaysian owned. Further, a short comment on why foreigners today do not want to invest in Malaysia, because of the absolute lack of security,( whole consignments of cargoes can go missing even at the airport cargo terminal, even jet engines can go missing from a high… Read more »


Again it showed your ignorance of international work place. In USA, they can call you the president or vice president or any name or title in this planet, earth, as far as you can perform! USD 150 per hour charges are normally charged by those contract professionals and not contractual professionals, as those in the latter charge substantially higher or they do not charge at all. Perhaps you are running an organization without knowing who is the head at the other end? Interaction is very important in today’s globalized society. Do not be reactive when you have one or two… Read more »


Gerakan, this is the whole problem, you only see your side and think the Indian in India cant speak proper English.

Actually it is probably your staff that cant speak proper England (oops English) and creating a communication problem.


Gerakan K, Perhaps you are dealing with those cottage industry type or third class type of Companies? Yes, it is not unusual that we find monkeys working for us if we pay peanuts? Have you checked the credibility of your counterpart at the other end? Perhaps it was your employees that cannot communicate? Your employees are not up to mark? These are all possibilities for you to check to improve on the operations of your Company. I am sorry to hear what you encountered but I must thank my lucky star that the Indians I worked with are first class… Read more »


Gerakan K, PR cannot offer anything that the BN had offered to Malaysians so far. PR certainly cannot offer Altantuya, missing immigration records,Teoh Beng Hock, PKFZ, Perak power grab, VK Lingam, correct corect correct and now Malaysians like you in BN must be thankful and proud for the worldwide attention that BN/UMNO had brought to the country, the reported two missing jet engines….. wait a minute Gerakan K, can you confirm whether it is actually two engines only? Words are out now that there are more than two you know? They said it is four and with other military wares… Read more »

Gerakan K

Do you blame LGE when there was criminal activity, for example robbery in Penang? Of course not. Why now blame BN when there was robbery alike scenario in RMAF? Why blame BN when Teoh Beng Hock case is still not concluded. Homicide or suicide, who knows? For PKFZ, do you know the culprit already face impending court trial? For Perak power grab (I think power transition is more appropriate), do you understand what is majority rules principle? BN has more ADUNs and thus deserve to govern Perak. Don’t be a sore loser. For VK Lingam, the recorded videos mean nothing… Read more »


Gerakan K, With due respect to you bro, I gather from your intimations via all the comments only in Anil’s blog, that at best, you are just a middle level management material with college education. Your ability to interact objectively on all topics discussed is highly suspect! Your tendency to quote people out of context, avoiding answering when you know you are guilty, all point to one thing, an insecure soul in this global village, who is trying his best to adapt but failed to on most occasions and will always deceive your ownself with whatever little you may achieve!… Read more »


@Gerakan K, Again you think in such simple terms, buddy boy. Malaysians don’t just blame BN without rhyme or reason. Malaysians blame your BN blokes for the jet engine theft because you guys have been sitting on your backsides for 2 long years despite the report being made that long ago. We aren’t faulting BN for those army thieves’ actions, but faulting BN for being a useless government in its inaction. We blame BN not just because Beng Hock was a DAP man, but because he died in mysterious circumstances and was maligned (by BN, who else!) even after death.… Read more »


I went to South Korea in early 90s for my ex-company’s symposium. That journey was an eye-opening experience for me, no land in Korea is unused for wild grass “lalang” as Bolehland here. The vacant land between highways and hotel courtyard is all planted with paddy. This may explain why South Korea is sprang ahead to become a developed nation while Bolehland is plunged… like the Zimbabwe. I disagree with Anil that the wages is stagnant. In real value, the wages for our workers and engineers are diminishing over the years. has just published my bashing letter today on… Read more »


Anil, You should come shopping with me, and I will show you all the places t get the best deals. FYI, tomatoes in Tesco is in the RM3.50/kg range. It used to be cheaper in Penang, until the Batu Lanchang market traders used to raid all the tomatoes & vegetables from Tesco. They would then sell these vegetables at 2x the price in the afternoon.


I really must disagree with those who think that agriculture is not important, that we should not send our kids to study agriculture, and even those who propose solving the food problem with growing vegetables in our backyard. Agriculture and downstream food production is a major industry in some countries, both as domestic food supply, as well as a major export industry. For eg in Holland, advanced farming techniques has made farming a very successful venture for the Dutch. In California, home of Silicon Valley, agriculture is a major industry and closer to home, Thailand has been the… Read more »

Gerakan K

Be direct and less diplomatic as we are discussing online. I think you are going backward. Please don’t miss the boat, particularly the young one. To make the long story short, please read following article.

Article title: Economic History of Malaysia
Author: John H. Drabble, University of Sydney, Australia

If you still believing in agriculture that hold the future, then I may wish you good luck.


ghkok, is not being diplomatic with his comments but he is just more refine, educated and exposed in the corporate world! Cheers bro!


Gerakan K: You missed the point.

If real inflation was managed properly, if the country isnt sucked dry by the corrupted politicians, their family & cronies & if rakyat money was not wasted on white elephant projects/schemes…. it would not be necessary to find a part time or second job just to put food on the table.

A Gov is suppose to look after the people; not the crooked politicians & his cronies.


Anil, It is the reality we have to face with the current market supply and demand situation. But the cases of many Chinese primary schools parents are forced to accepet the facts of blackmailing by the corrupted headmasters is amtter of inevitable circustances! My standard four boy were forced to purchase 22 “optional” reference books recommended by the teachers as an option, without purchasing these books he can not participate in the class activities. Guess what the kick back on these reference book (allegedly) ranged from 35% to 50%. Imagine RM 150 price tag withe bulk purchase without a single… Read more »


Good idea, Anil, you can assist in this matter by highlighting the plight of many parents on this issue that had been hounding the Chinese schools for a long time. No wonder at one time there was a businessman from Selangor who offered RM500,000 to get to the bottom of this matter, which incidentally plagues Chinese schools only. Another point for your goodself to highlight is the compulsory computer classes that the children in Chinese primary schools need to attend and they seem to be paying above RM100 per annum, I guess. Imagine from standard 1 onwards, just check the… Read more »

Gerakan K

Growing vegetable on your backyard is the work for retiree/elder who have nothing to do. Please, find some part time jobs instead. Let say that with doing a part time job, you will probably earn few hundreds extra. With this additional income, you can cover any price increase in common goods such as vegetable, fruit, and other daily essentials.


If everyone follows what you say, there will be no food, fruits, greens and other agricultural essentials to buy. Perhaps we have to eat microchips then. Why encourage people to into other jobs when they can make equally good monies out of agriculture? Because of dunggus like you, Malaysia has lost its competitive edge in every segment of the economy. We were once the largest exporters of natural rubber, tin and palm oil, today, we are neither here nor there. We tried to follow the trend then to industrialize, the discovery of oil and the set up of Petronas was… Read more »


To add to the rising cost will be the soon-to-be-introduced GST. The middleclass, the poor and the retired will find it costlier just to get by on a day to day basis. What a nightmare!!!

Gerakan K

Reject BN if GST really implemented.


I agree with you, Big Joe.
I also believe unless and until corrupt leaders, to the level of PM, go to jail, it is difficult for this country to be rid of corruption.

To do that, we must first relegate BN to opposition for at least 2 terms. Taking a cue from other reformed countries, don’t expect existing leaders to send one of their own kind to prison. That will never happen.

Alonso Fulat

so shoudnt we feel blessed that an altenative party is gaining strength to check on the corrupted government that rule this country more than 50 years?

because of the datuks, datins and their decendents, the entire nation suffer.

rm1.20 per tomato is only one of the example.
just the cost of the two fighter jet engine itself can finance thousands of students to higher education.

how many millions more does the country has to be wasted and stolen this way?

fikirlah kawan before its too late .


I think the tomato cost RM1.20 because it was grown in Penang.


Friends of mine from the Philippine told me that the only way corruption can changed of is to do what Korea, Taiwan did – the top leader must go to jail. In other words, so long as no Malaysian PM goes to jail, so long corruption will continue and any changes is cosmetic and marginal.


Many have lamented that the Ringgit has ‘shrunk’ over the years. Pay has remained relatively the same (only increase was following official inflation rate of 2%). However the real inflation is closer to 10-15% The rakyat uses food as the real benchmark for inflation as that is the absolute necessity. Look at how a mix rice lunch was RM3 back in 1997 is now RM5. How a roti canai used to be RM0.60 is now RM1. And even the RM1 roti canai is smaller in size, the curry watered down (used to be proper dhall curry). It wouldnt surprise me… Read more »


I think RM1.20 for a tomato is a bit too high, I would like to believe for vegetables (even seafood), some time places like hypermarket is a bit cheaper as they got it directly from the farm or the source. Those small time vegetables seller just can’t cope with the rising cost of operation (middle man and etc), hence the end consumer is the one will have to bear the overall costs. Come to how the poor cope with the rising costs. We felt blessed when my wife and I went marketing some time ago, while we are buying chicken… Read more »


Growing food (especially vegetables) is big business in this country. If you visit the Cameron Highlands you can see acres upon acres of vegetable farms run by the (Chinese) with the help of (foreign workers) from neighbouring countries.

Greens sold at the green markets in Cameron Highlands are less than a third of what they sell in Penang. Even if we factor in transportation costs, I believe the present supply chain has too many mark ups. A more cost effective way should be devised to bring those greens to the urban markets.


Gerakan K speaks like a broken down record of Koh Tsu Koon. Also Dalibinder Singh thinks too highly of himself. He should go back studying like he does best.

Gerakan K

That is why many people still live in poverty. Please, ask your children and anyone to study engineering/computer science and not the useless agriculture/history/literacture/geography.


Silly little twit. Who will grow your food ? Try eating a micro-chip the next time you were in front of a computer.

Gerakan K

You still don’t get the idea? Malaysia already transformed and we do not have the competitive advantage when comparing with China and the others in agriculture industries. Go for value added industries such as IT (hardware/software) to ensure high return investment. Remember 3000++ tomato vs 1 CPU chip lesson. In today’s borderless world, self sufficiency is no longer relevant. We need to do import (food) and export (semiconductor).


In what way has Malaysia transformed to be globally competitive? In what segment of the economy are we competitively competitive against the Chinese? Name one Malaysian enterprise that is competing competitively in the value added and high return economy globally? Please do not talk about the local sundry shop’s turnover against the global chains like TEsco, Carrefour and Giant, Gerakan K. Another thing, the transformation of the retail trade should have given you a clear indication of how big the agricultural market is. Previously, no supermarkets were interested in selling these agricultural products, but, with the advent of hypermarkets, brought… Read more »

Gerakan K

No offence here, money can buy virtually anything including food (for higher than normal price), love, action in showing love, people time & effort, weapons and a lot more that you will probably censor it I were listed them here. This is the reality that I observed. So the main concern here is that do something that is worthwhile relatively, ie choosing the best option to earn the most. Yes, people are generally selfish. I don’t pretend I’m not. But I’m not poor and rely on other help & sympathy.


Gerakan K,

You are so fond of flaunting your wealth in this blog.

Further it only goes to show your class when you say money can buy you “love, show of love”, cannot agree more that you people always like the “syiok sendiri” syndrome only. No wonder you can feel Najib’s positive action.

While money can buy you false love, and show of love,as you mentioned, syiok sendiri always, it can also buy you AIDS!!!!!

Beware Gerakan K.


You seem to know the cost of everything and not the value of anything. What is the value of self-sufficiency and food security ? When I was in myanmar one of the things I had observed was how well the people eat inspite of abject poverty. A graduate managing a bookstore in yangon only earned the equivalent of US$7/= a month about 8 or so years back. Recently in one of the blogs someone commented how well the kelantanese eat eventhough there were obvious poverty all round. What economic cost do you put on such self-produced quality and healthy food… Read more »

Dalbinder Singh Gill

Dalinbinder? Who is DalIbinder

Dalbinder Singh Gill

Berry, come stay with me for 1 week. At least you will be able to rate how highly I think of myself. Not criticizing you back but this is a practical way of “criticism” “reply” and solution.

Alonso Fulat

so what are you doing beside frowning and frowning, Anil?

what have you done for Kg buah pala and the heritage hotel issue so far beside whacking the PR gov?
what have you contributed to the people of penang so far?

giving ideas on paper is one thing. to execute is another thing. do something and show it to us instead of keep complaining, Anil.

may be you can kick start the campaign – growing vegetable and fruits at one’s backyard. dont just complain.


Growing your own vegetable may not be everyone’s cup of tea and as such community farm has great merit. In such a farm consumers can offer sweat equity in exchange for healthy, organically grown, pesticide and weedicide free vegetable. The farm land could be provided by the government or as part of any housing development. Sweat equity can be offered as one’s own sweat or purchased by hiring a worker to work on the consumer’s behalf. The arrangement could be organised by the government or preferably a farmer’s cooperative or anyone in the community, such as retirees, who are willing… Read more »


Hydroponic method should be used in the land scarce state like Penang. I believe Penang can be self-sufficient in the vegetable supply if more resources are challenged to this green sector.


Sorry, nkkhoo, This reply is meant for Gerakan K. Berry cannot be more correct to qualify that Gerakan K is a broken down old record of KTK. Naive and arrogant is his reply classifying that the agricultural and arts sector as useless, sheer ignorance, what a pity! Another product of BTN and BN/Gerakan…… unfortunately Gerakan had been kicked out totally in Penang and almost totally nationwide. And now he is actively participating in the NKRA, and actively contributing his ideas too. Hopefully something good will come out from his attending the NKRA. Another thing, nkkhoo, you are talking about ten… Read more »


I had tried hydroponic and soil growing and at the back of my mind I somehow sense that there is something not right with hydroponic. Why does a plant, supposedly with all the necessary condition for growth would sprout so much roots ? If you understand why plants increase its roots growth you will understand that the tremendous increase in root growth of hydroponic plants is because it is “lacking” something. In the early years of research on hydroponics some researchers particularly in netherland found that soil-based plants have small amount of hormones found near the root system. The relationship… Read more »


If BN Federal government can loan me ten million, I will start a hydroponic farm in Penang Island.

No money, no action.


I like comments like Alonso Fulat’s. “If you don’t like the government you’re in, make your own damn government!”

Gerakan K

I found following statement sound silly from a businessman perspective:

“Every bit helps. Remember, we can’t eat microchips”

Some info for sharing, the price of CPU by Intel:

QUAD CORE i7-965 RM 3680*


Why businessman need to sell more than 3000++ tomato, when they can make it by selling a single CPU chip?


Gerakan K, I am not being personal but really please do not always quote people out of context which you are very fond of. Anil was just summarizing up his article with a message to all readers, that every little bit helps. Nothing can be further from the truth, what is the point of having a good bank balance when there is no food to buy? Seriously can you eat microchips, Gerakan K? If everyone puts that little effort to grow some of their own greens, you can see the effect it will have on the economy. It will not… Read more »