It is not only because of the floods that prices of vegetables have soared. The weakening ringgit may have made foreign vegetables cost more, while fuel price hikes last year may also have contributed to the price hike.
Moreover, Penang had quite a few vegetable farms in the past in places like Tanjung Tokong and before that, Farlim, but these were sacrificed for property development. Now many wholesalers in Penang have to rely on lorries coming from Cameron Highlands for the bulk of their local vegetable supply.
Increasingly our food security looks heavily reliant on supplies from the Camerons and overseas. And we know how vulnerable the Camerons supply is.
One homemaker said her weekly grocery bill for vegetables has rocketed by two or three times compared to the amount she used to pay a few years ago.
This rising food bill is hurting the budgets of many households, which are already bracing themselves for the GST onslaught.
What is your experience?
Should we promote more community and organing farming initiatives in unused public spaces?
Has the government neglected the promotion of food security as a major priority while encouraging high-end property development to proliferate and allowing the conversion of agricultural land to commercial use?
This excerpt from a Star report dated 5 January:
Federation of Malaysian Vegetables Wholesalers Association treasurer Chong Tek Keong said the prices of vegetables have risen by between 40% and 50%.
He said the prolonged rainy season had caused a drop in local supply by between 30% and 40%.
Denying that the profits of wholesalers’ had increased because of the higher demand, he said it was farmers who were charging more for their produce.
“Supply was already low because of the recent crackdown on illegal immigrants in Cameron Highlands and mud floods there and the East Coast floods have pushed prices even higher.
“Wholesalers only resumed their delivery to certain areas in Kelantan and Pahang on Monday,” he said.
Chong said prices of locally grown vegetable were only expected to drop after the Chinese New Year next month.
Cameron Highlands Vegetable Growers Association secretary Chay Ee Mong said the rainy weather and floods affected the produce of vegetables throughout the country and not only in the highlands.
“The weather is too wet for any harvest progress.
“Hopefully, the weather will return to normal soon so that leafy vegetables can be harvested in time to meet the higher demand during Chinese New Year,” he said.