Farmer Fam Kam Beh with a net full of tilapia fish caught from his pond in Jeram
FOLLOWING the increase in the price of freshwater fish early this month, distributor Wang Kar Chung’s business has been affected.
Wang, 31, said retailers such as freshwater fish traders in wet markets, had reduced orders by about 20%.
“Some of them feel our freshwater fish is too expensive and prefer to buy from unidentified sources at a cheaper price.
“This situation has led to an unhealthy business environment for legitimate industry players.
“For instance, theft of freshwater fish at farms would now become more rampant,” he said.
Wang said the public must be made to understand the reason behind the price increase, instead of constantly criticising them.
It was reported that the price of freshwater fish had gone up between 8% and 12% about two weeks ago, due to the increase in electricity tariff and petrol prices.
The levy imposed on foreign workers at these farms is also a contributing cause, as it is a financial burden for breeders, distributors and exporters.
Perak supplies 80% of the country’s freshwater fish, and most farms are located in Kampar, Batu Gajah and Taiping.
The popular freshwater fish cultivated in the state are tilapia, siakap, grass carp, patin and lampam.
Jacky Yao, a fish fry breeder, said the increase in electricity tariff had led to a 10% increase in his production cost.
“Every month, the electricity bill for my farm is about RM12,000,” he said, adding that before the increase he used to pay about RM10,000.
Yao, 39, said electricity usage was high as they used oxygen generators for the fish ponds.
Fish pellets supplier Leon Chin, 40, said he was also told by factories manufacturing the pellets that the price of this would increase after Chinese New Year.
“I think it would be revised soon. The price of fish feed also increased by 8% last year,” he said, adding that a packet of 20kg fish pellets cost about RM61.
Freshwater fish exporter Jimmy Ting, 49, said he was concerned that he would not be able to sustain his business given the situation.
“Consumers might opt for cheaper imported fish from Thailand and Indonesia.
“We hope the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry will look into our plight and resolve problems before the situation worsens,” he said.
Perak Freshwater Fish Breeders Association president Steven Kong, meanwhile, has urged retailers and consumers to buy freshwater fish through proper channels.
Kong also said he hoped more industry players would join the association.
“It is one way to guarantee the welfare of the breeders,” he said.
He said there were about 1,000 freshwater fish breeders and distributors in the state but that only 10% of them were registered as members of the association.