Sabah govt needs to do more for pig farmers, says DAP MP
KOTA KINABALU, July 14 — A Sabah DAP lawmaker is again calling on the government to help pig farmers as pork prices continue to soar amidst other food security concerns.
Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin said that the temporary measure of allowing the import of pork was not sufficient to help local smallholder pig farmers stay in business.
“Why are the measures taken so far seeming ineffective? Is it because of the overzealous guideline set by Federal Department of Veterinary Services (DVS), such as only goods produced by abattoirs recognised by the federal DVS are allowed to be imported into Sabah?
“Why can’t Sabah demand for devolution of power from Federal DVS to Sabah DVS, the favourite subject of Jeffrey?” he said, referring to Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan.
The latter had last May announced the import of pork from countries such as Denmark and France, but Chan said measures taken were not effective enough to ensure enough pork supply in the local market to keep prices down.
“In the long term, food security is about increasing local food production and reducing the dependency of imported foods. Then, the next thing Jeffrey should do is assist the local poultry industry players, especially pig farmers who had been facing huge losses following ASF,” he said, using the abbreviation for African swine fever.
“Those small players have no choice but to choose to cease operation or reduce production, further worsening the scenario with price being pushed up as supply continues to fall behind demand.”
Chan proposed the state work with federal Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Ronald Kiandee to compensate farmers who were forced to cull livestock due to the ASF breakout.
“Such a policy would encourage the reporting of ASF, control the spread of the disease and ultimately reduce losses among pig farmers,” he said.
Chan attributed some of the soaring prices of pork to ASF, as well as global increase in pig feed prices.
However, he said it was puzzling why the neighbouring state of Sarawak, which was similarly affected by ASF, still maintained prices some 40 per cent less than Sabah.
“A lot of people are puzzled with the huge price difference, even among Jeffrey’s allies, such as SAPP’s Yong Yit Jee, and Tan Sri TC Goh, a member of Sabah Economic Advisory Council,” said Chan.
The Sabah DAP committee member reiterated his call for the federal government to provide financial assistance to pig farmers which may either be in the form of guarantees, loans, cost-sharing arrangements, wage subsidies, feed subsidies, entrepreneurship grants or others.
“As for state governments, assistance to these farmers can be given in the form of assessment or quit-rent reductions or waivers, reducing red tape while speeding up the issuance of licences, and with the fulfilment of other legal requirements for setting up pig farms,” he said.
It was reported in May that prices have increased five times in five months, due to limited supply versus demand.