JOHOR BARU: That prized catch from your fishing trip abroad or the fresh bouquet of flowers you received from friends as a farewell gift before you fly back to Malaysia will not make it through the international gateway in Johor.
Items from foreign shores will be seized at all entry points into Johor if there are no permits issued allowing them to be brought in.
Johor Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services Department (Maqis) director Nur Afifah A. Rahman said some people even tried to bring in geckos or other animals as pets or for medicinal use from neighbouring countries.
She said so far this year, Maqis recorded 88 cases of seizure in Johor comprising agricultural products and poultry.
“Even during the movement control order (MCO) starting from March, we had 33 cases and the culprits were given compounds, ” she said, disclosing that fines collected from all 88 cases totalled RM177,700.
“Last year, the department recorded 96 cases and issued compounds totalling RM414,000, ” she revealed.
“Most of the seizure of agricultural products was at the Second Link, Johor Causeway and ports in the state.
“So far this year, we seized 18 tonnes of agricultural products at the 16 entry points via land, sea and air into Johor.
“Most of the seized items are destroyed.
“If it is meat, we donate it to zoos in the country to feed to the animals, ” she said in an interview.
Nur Afifah said that in recent months, Maqis had donated five tonnes of seized produce, consisting of 4,290kg of cabbage, 90kg of beef, 160kg of both dried and frozen fish, 69kg of coffee beans, six kilogrammes of dairy products and two kilogrammes of frozen insects to the Melaka Zoo as well as the A’Famosa Safari Wonderland.
Nur Afifah said such items were seized if importers infringed Sections 11,13,14, and/or 15 of the Quarantine and Inspection Services Act 2011.
“Meat that cannot be given to the zoos is destroyed by means of burying or burning it, ” she explained.
On exports to Singapore, she said Maqis personnel were stationed at the two land crossings to inspect the hundreds of lorries transporting agricultural products to the island republic daily.
She said Malaysia exported some four million eggs, 150,000 chickens, 10,000 ducks, 500 tonnes of vegetables, 450 tonnes of fruits, 100 tonnes of fish and 13,000 stalks of flowers daily to the neighbouring country.
She described Maqis personnel as frontliners who checked on agricultural products being brought in and taken out of the country.
“Our job is to keep people safe. We ensure food products or other items brought in do not jeopardise them in any way or harm the agricultural sector.
“We want to prevent viruses such as African Swine Fever, African Horse Sickness and mango seed weevil, a type of pest that lives inside mango seeds, from being brought in.
“We ensure the meat, fruits and livestock imported have permits and health certificates, ” she said. She added that for poultry, a halal certification from the country of origin was a must as well.
Nur Afifah noted that banana and papaya farmers had been hit badly by pests in the past.
She said Maqis, formed in 2008, was a one-stop centre comprising five agencies under the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry.
The agencies are Agriculture Department, Veterinary Department, Fisheries Department, Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia and Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority.
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