THE decision by Singapore to close the Pasir Panjang wholesale market without notice has caused Malaysian farmers to suffer huge losses, reported China Press.
In its editorial, the daily said lorry drivers ferrying vegetables and fruits to Singapore were unaware of the decision to stop the produce from being sold at the centre.
The 160-odd drivers only learned about the closure when they arrived at Tanjung Puteri Customs checkpoint after spending hours under the hot sun which had caused the produce to go bad.
The centre was ordered closed on Saturday for 10 days to check the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The daily urged the authorities to be more transparent in its decision in future to prevent such losses.
It also urged the Agriculture Department to help the farmers and the Singapore government to look for other ways for farmers to sell their produce.
The daily reported that supermarkets and hypermarkets in Singapore had increased their demand for vegetables following the centre’s closure.
The supermarkets and hypermarkets in Singapore supply 30% of the greens in the island.
In recent days, only eight lorries with permits to supply to supermarkets and hypermarkets were allowed entry to Singapore leaving about 100 others “ stranded” at the customs checkpoint.
While the greens were left to rot, vegetable wholesalers in Johor Baru had a hard time coping with the increased demand by supermarkets and hypermarkets in Singapore.
Federation of Vegetable Wholesalers Association in Malaysia chairman Soo Cheng Kee said prices of vegetables would be much lower with the 10-day ban as there would be a glut in the market.
“It will cause a surplus of vegetables and this will affect the farmers and wholesalers,” he said.
Soo said this was the first time that the farmers and wholesalers faced such a situation.