KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — A chicken egg crisis is brewing in Malaysia with the current shortage of one of the most affordable protein food sources in the country about to get worse soon, The Star reported today.
Citing information from the Federation of Livestock Farmers Associations of Malaysia, the newspaper reported that only 170 out of 300 poultry farms remain in business today after the pandemic and are struggling with operational costs due to rising chicken feed prices, rising labour costs, reduced subsidies, and a government-imposed ceiling price on eggs.
“We are not talking about profits, but only to break even so we can pay our suppliers and workers,” Lee Yoon Yeau, deputy president of the umbrella body, told The Star.
He explained that the war in Ukraine has doubled prices for maize and soybean meal — the most commonly used chicken feed.
Maize now costs over RM1,800 a tonne while soybean meal is more than RM2,650 tonne, he added.
The ceiling price for Grade C eggs was set at 35 sen one from February 5 to June 30, but production cost went up to 45 sen an egg, Lee told The Star.
“So, with a 5 sen per egg subsidy, we lose 5 sen.
“With the current daily production of 28 million tonnes, the loss is RM1.04 million daily and RM42 million monthly for farmers,” he was quoted saying.
Lee said the federation of farmers hopes the government could increase the subsidy to 8 sen an egg so they could break even.
He said the government has so far increased the ceiling price to two sen an egg for this month and next, but said nothing about subsidies.
“If the government is not keen to provide a reasonable subsidy, it should allow prices to be floated and let market forces decide.
“The farmers are now holding on to their last breath in the intensive care unit. The poultry industry could collapse soon,” he was quoted saying.
He said floated prices were the norm in the past, with controlled prices implemented during festive seasons.
Lee said bigger poultry farms in the country are reducing production as they are struggling with increased labour costs now that the minimum wage of RM1,500 a month has kicked in.
The Star quoted a federation committee member in Sabah seconding Lee’s forecast of further decrease in egg production.
“If the business environment is not conducive, farmers will certainly cut down production.
“We cannot just halt production because the chicks and chickens are still there,” Chia Seong Pow told the newspaper.