PIG farmers in Perak are urging on the state government to give the green light to a private initiative to build a modern and hi-tech abattoir to replace the existing dilapidated one in Menglembu.
Having been in use since the 1960s, the slaughterhouse has been operating with old machines and equipment.
It has been deemed unhygienic by many pig farmers and some of them have stopped sending their livestock there.
“The slaughterhouse is in a derelict state in terms of building infrastructure, tools and equipment to facilitate slaughtering and other processes in a systematic and hygienic manner.
“The sewage control system is not effective and has often caused environmental pollution throughout the years.
“On top of that, there is no chiller room to temporarily store slaughtered livestock,” said Loo Foo Kooi, a pig farmer with over 40 years of experience from Bidor.
Loo, who is also Perak Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industries (PCCCI) Bidor branch chairman, said the various issues at the abattoir had been making it difficult for farmers, as they have to race against time to transport the meat.
“I do not send my pigs there, because of the lack of cleanliness and hygiene concerns.
“Pigs in my farm are raised without antibiotics and banned growth enhancer beta agonist. The meat is sold as Sakura pork in the market and has better overall taste and texture.
“For better quality meat, I send my livestock for slaughter at another abattoir in Rawang. The longer journey is worth it because I would never want to risk jeopardising my product quality,” he said.
According to information provided by the Perak Animal Husbandry Association, the 7ha pig slaughterhouse is adjacent to the abattoir for cattle and sheep inside the 13ha Ipoh Abattoir Complex on Jalan Lahat in Menglembu.
There is only one 12m x 18m filtration pond in the abattoir and another 4ha oxidation pond for sewage and pollution control, said Loo, who was also the association’s past president.
“A single oxidation pond is not enough for effective sewage control.
“What’s more, the areas meant for the process of killing the livestock are usually messy and hard to clean after each slaughter.
“All work is still done manually; the place is cramp, the steel door rusty and many of the floor tiles were broken,” he said while showing a detailed report compiled by the association years ago.
Loo noted that the current abattoir’s lairage, a place where cattle or sheep are rested on the way to slaughter, was too small and the building structure has deteriorated over time.
“Parts of the roof are broken, the rain gutters are failing and there are many holes in the floor too.
“Many of the steel railings have corroded. This can injure livestock and also the workers.
“There is no loading ramp for the livestock and workers have to carry them from lorries,” he said, adding that the disinfectant wheel-dip area for vehicles at the entrance was too short and shallow to cater for bigger lorries.
Association president David Lee Chli Yuan said the abattoir is now under the purview of the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry’s Veterinary Services Department.
“It is still in operation, just that the equipment and premises are old and obsolete.
“The abattoir is being managed by a private company by way of tender and contract with the department.
“On normal days, it is capable of slaughtering between 600 and 800 pigs a day, and it only operates 22 days in a month.
“The number increases to about 1,000 a day during festive seasons,” he said, adding that 70% of pork produced in Perak was meant for markets in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley, with the rest for local consumption and other nearby states.
Lee said a majority of pig farms in central Perak were still sending their livestock for slaughter to the abattoir because of logistics constraints.
“Some also send livestock to abattoirs in Rawang or Puchong, and a small number of farmers send to smaller slaughterhouses in Perak.
“Although it is old, the abattoir is still in use until a replacement is ready,” he said, adding that the additional travel time of transporting livestock to other places had often resulted in stress and sudden death of livestock.
The abattoir, according to the department, was advised to relocate following new development in its surrounding areas.
“If a new one is to be built, we will push for one that is modernised, hi-tech and fulfils what the market needs,” said Lee, adding that the proposal was put on hold after it was brought up for discussion with the state government 10 years ago.
Loo said the location for the proposed new abattoir was on a former mining site in Batang Padang, Kuala Bikam, several kilometres away from residential areas.
“The new abattoir will be of a proper scale with comprehensive facilities using technology from the Netherlands and in compliance with international standards.
“The proposed structure will be built on a 12ha land with 8ha buffer zone, with trees, ponds and open areas,” he said.
Loo added that the entire project would be a private initiative by association members and expected to cost about RM40mil including land acquisition.
Lee said the new abattoir would bring positive impact to the pig farming industry in Malaysia, while making slaughtering more systematic and hygienic with higher output.
“With new and advanced technology, the new facility will be able to slaughter 250 pigs under an hour, while making sure the meat remains fresh.
“With integrated effort in place, we will be able to offer various fresh pork products to customers,” he said.
He also noted that the association was behind pushing for a new abattoir, while taking into consideration possible investors, location, building planning and designs.
“We are compelled to think things through carefully before deciding, because only insiders and industry players who know the industry understand what’s needed in the market.
“We are serious and committed to change for the better.
“We hope that the new abattoir would come to fruition soon,” he added.
Meanwhile, state Health, Consumer Affairs, National Integration and Human Resource chairman A. Sivanesan said all pig farms in the state would be fully modernised by the end of next year.
He said the state expected all farms to implement the modern farming system soon rather than by 2021.
To date, he said 57 of the 115 pig farms in the state had implemented the system.
“The system could not be fully implemented as farmers needed to fulfil several criteria, namely a closed pen system, zero waste discharge management system, minimum distance of 200m from residences, schools, clinics, places of worship as well as public amenities apart from good farming practice,” he said.
On the proposed abattoir, Sivanesan said he agreed that a modernised facility would greatly minimise air and water pollution, while creating job opportunities for locals.
“As a Hindu, I do not eat pork or beef but I have nothing against the proposal, which could stimulate the economy and development in Bidor and Kuala Bikam.
“I will liaise with other departments, such as the Land Office, Veterinary Services Department, Drainage and Irrigation Department and Environment Department to reassess the proposal.
“Once I have a detailed report from them, I will bring this up for discussion in the state exco meeting,” he said, adding that a town hall session with residents would also be arranged to get their feedback.