PETALING JAYA: The issues around the supply of basic necessities such as chicken and cooking oil stem from a bigger problem, and that is food security, says the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations.
Its president, Datuk Dr Marimuthu Nada-son, urged the government to craft a long-term plan through legislation and policy instead of creating “cosmetic solutions” such as setting up a special task force on inflation.
“We must have a long-term policy for our food security issue, such as gazetting land specifically for agriculture.
“There must be land dedicated for food production purposes that must be reflected in our laws and policies,” he told The Star.
He added that land must not only be awarded for housing or industrial purposes.
The government must also provide sufficient funds for the agriculture sector, which includes the fishing industry and farming.
It would enable farmers and fishers to sustain themselves while supplying the market with basic necessities.
Marimuthu said the current National Food Security Policy Action Plan (2021-2025) is insufficient to address these issues and a better plan should be crafted.
He said MPs must also push for a sustainable agriculture policy that is future-proof and not just a short-term rectification plan.
“The policy would be able to address similar issues in the next few decades, not only when we are facing crises,” he said.
Consumers Association of Penang education officer NV Subbarow concurred, suggesting that vacant land be used for farming or agricultural activities.
“The Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority, which is involved in ensuring our food supply is secure, should play a more vital role.
“Set up more farms and attract young people to join the sector,” he said.
He added that by encouraging more youths to join the sector, relevant agencies would then be able to cooperate with them in supplying basic necessities.
The government should also consider roping in consumer groups, civil society and NGOs such as farmers’ groups in planning a long-term solution, he said.
On the latest ceiling price of chicken of RM9.40 per kg, Subbarow said this would still not be affordable to most households and should be lowered.
“The new ceiling price must be lower as chicken is the top protein option for Malaysians,” he said, adding that enforcement must also be boosted.
On Wednesday, Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee, in announcing the new ceiling price for chicken, also said the Cabinet had decided that the retail price of Grade A eggs would be set at 45 sen each, Grade B at 43 sen and Grade C at 41 sen.
Previously, the price of eggs was set at 43 sen for Grade A, 41 sen for Grade B and 39 sen for Grade C.
The new prices will take effect from today till Aug 31.