KUANTAN: Tanah Rata assemblyman Chiong Yoke Kong is urging the government to ease operating hour restrictions for vegetable vendors to prevent an impact on the food production and supply chain.
Chiong said some of the measures announced and imposed during the movement control order (MCO) period were inconsistent with how real market and supply chain works, causing the vegetable supply in the market to become unstable while food prices were increasing.
He explained that vegetable vendors in Cameron Highlands would start packaging produce at night before the MCO was imposed and then transport it to various wholesale markets in the middle of the night so that consumers would be able to purchase fresh vegetables early in the morning.
“Now, vegetable vendors are only allowed to operate from 7am to 7pm, thus affecting the whole production chain.
“Cameron Highlands’ vegetable vendors are now packaging vegetables in the daytime and in hot weather. Vegetables that are packed are then left overnight and can only be transported the next morning.
“Some vegetables that are left out due to limited operating hours can only be packed the next morning, ” said Chiong.
He added that once the vegetables had been delivered to wholesale markets, another half of a day would be spent on delivering the produce to retailers.
“It is only the third morning that these vegetables can be sold at various retail markets. Under such circumstances, retailers would understandably cut order quantities and reduce stockpiles as the longer vegetables are kept, the more difficult it is to sell.
“As stockpiles decline, prices will naturally climb and consumers will have to pay more to purchase vegetables, ” he said, adding that this would also severely affect the underprivileged groups as they could hardly afford expensive vegetables.
Chiong said the government’s intention of restricting movement was understandable but he said it was also imperative to ensure the continuous and stable operation of food production as well as the supply chain ecosystem in order to prevent inflation.
“Easing restrictions of operating hours for the food production sector will give space for vegetable vendors to operate at night while the food supply chain can return to normal in order to prevent a food crisis, ” he said.
In Pahang, all business premises must close from 7pm to 7am daily during the MCO.