GEORGE TOWN: There should be automation of the production line of Malaysian-grown coconuts so that the cost can be lowered and thus compete globally, says Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Sim Tze Tzin (pic).
This was one of the ways, he said, that could address competition from other coconut producers.
Responding to complaints from traders about their losses due to coconuts from other countries flooding the Malaysian market, he advised the affected growers and suppliers to lodge a report with t he ministry.
He said the import of coconuts from Indonesia had been in practice for years.
“We have been importing coconuts from Sumatra for a long time, and importers need to have a permit to do so,” he said.
“Among the main reasons for the higher demand of Indonesian coconuts are due to their lower price, as industries need them in huge quantities to make products for local and overseas consumption.
“The versatility of coconuts puts them in high demand to develop downstream industries, such as production of coconut juice, santan (milk) and various products, including charcoal and graphite materials from the shells.
“Our local industries produce a variety of products from coconuts and many of them are exported,” he said.
Seeing the potential, Sim said the ministry had listed coconuts as among the four most important industrial crop for their importance in the local industries.
“The price of coconut is expected to go up as there is a global shortage of coconuts,” he said.
Suseeladevi Letchumanan Samy, 50, said coconut milk was a must in her daily preparation for her home-cooked dishes at her Jalan Sungai Tiram stall.
“I use coconut milk daily for my curry dishes which include fish, chicken, sotong, dhal and mutton.
“Usually, I would buy three packets of coconut milk every morning from the market, each costing RM1.
“I don’t know whether the milk is from local coconuts or imported ones.
“However, fresh local coconuts are now quite expensive as they are priced from RM4.50 to RM5 each at the coffee stalls in the food complex,” she said.
Housewife Molly Lee, 63, said she would take fresh coconut water twice each week as it had a lot of health benefits.
“It’s the best way to hydrate your body due to its high electrolyte content.
“I’ve tried the Indonesian coconuts but I still prefer our local ones as they taste better and juicier, although they are much pricier,” the retired teacher said.
Consumers Association of Penang’s (CAP) education officer N.V. Subbarow urged traders not to sell spoiled or substandard coconuts.
“Actually, consumers have the right to know the country of origin of the coconuts they are buying.
“They should only get quality coconuts,” he said.