THE glut of certain types of vegetables in Perak has hit an all-time high.
Topping the list are white sweet potato, turnip and corn.
Farmers and wholesalers said the situation was unprecedented.
In Kampung Baru Bidor Stesyen in Bidor, white sweet potatoes (white flesh) were left to rot in the fields. Farmer Edward Chai Kean Mun said at least 50 tonnes of sweet potatoes were spoilt in the last three months.
Based on the lowest ex-farm price – about RM1.20 per kilo – he said the farmers lost at least RM60,000 in the last three months.
And the losses appear to be mounting. The ex-farm price plunged to 60sen and below, Edward said, and farmers were selling below cost price.
“White sweet potatoes used to be in demand. It is used for many types of desserts, such as curry puffs.
“The demand used to drop a bit during fasting month but would recover after that.
“But this time around, it continues to drop,” he told StarMetro during a visit to the farm a week ago.
Besides the retail consumer market, Chai, 31, said feedback also showed a huge drop in demand for sweet potatoes from food processing factories.
On turnips, Chai said farmers were delaying their harvest because of poor demand.
“But the turnips will rot from the prolonged delay in harvesting,” he said.
Chai said the demand for corn – local and export market – had dropped substantially.
“The exporters of corn kernels say they are running out of storage space and it is expensive to store corn kernels,” he added.
The farm land in Bidor, which is formerly a mining land, is suitable for vegetables such as sweet potato, turnip and corn in particular.
Kampung Baru Bidor Stesyen village chief Liew Yee Foong, 33, said the glut was because of the recent good weather and also more people taking up farming.
“Unfortunately, the demand for green produce did not rise in tandem or even dropped,” he lamented.
Liew hoped the Government could help to expand the export market in particular and also find more ways to add value to the crops.
“We can no longer depend on the local market alone,” he said.
Chai Chuen Tat, who is a wholesaler for greens, said the demand had been on the decline for the last three years.
“Demand for corn, for instance, has dropped by about 60%,” he said.
The 48-year-old Chai from Chemor, Perak, who has been in the business for over 20 years, said this was the first time he saw such a prolonged bad market.
In the past, he said the fluctuating market for greens would not last more than two weeks.
Chai said he noticed that the popular food courts in Ipoh were not as packed as before.
“You can easily find a seat nowadays,” he said.
Chai said people’s spending power dropped a lot in recent years, making them more cautious in their spending.
At the SPPK wet market in Pengkalan, Ipoh, a corn cob was priced at RM1 a week ago.
“This is really value for money,” said the trader.
The ex-farm price for turnip dropped to 50sen or 60sen per kilo, depending on the grade, compared to RM2.20 per kilo before this.
The ex-farm price for corn is fixed between 47sen and 67sen per kilo.
The demand for corn overseas has also dropped a lot.
Farmers believe it is because of the poor economy worldwide.
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