PETALING JAYA: Farmers have assured consumers that the high retail prices of vegetables, due to a poor harvest from heavy rains, are only temporary and will stabilise after the wet season.
In the meantime, they suggest consumers try vegetables that have not been affected by adverse weather.
Kuala Lumpur Vegetable Wholesalers’ Association president Wong Keng Fatt said wet weather had driven up the price of several vegetables by between 70% and 80%.
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The retail price of tomatoes is now at a historic high of RM12 per kg while at the wholesale level, it is RM10 per kg.
He said the previous high for tomatoes was RM9.50 per kg – which also took place during the same monsoon period in 2020.
“Heavy rain since early January have seen vegetable prices soaring,” he said yesterday.
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He said the retail price of okra or lady’s fingers was at RM18 per kg, long beans at RM11 per kg, Japanese cucumber at RM9 per kg, and local cucumber at RM7 per kg.
However, Wong said the cost of several kinds of vegetables had fallen, including lettuce that was now at RM6 per kg compared with RM12 per kg during the early part of Chinese New Year.
Federation of Vegetable Farmers Associations president Lim Ser Kwee said he expected the price of tomatoes, okra, bitter gourd and cucumber to stabilise in two or three weeks.
These vegetables, he said, needed lots of sunshine to grow.
“When the prices of some vegetables rise, consumers can buy other types of greens while waiting for prices to return to normal,” he said.
Cameron Highlands Vegetable Growers Association deputy president Lau Weng Soow said the price of sawi (green mustard), lettuce and siew pak choy (bok choy) had not gone up.
The rainy season in January had mainly affected farms in Johor and Cameron Highlands, he added.
“The rainy season reduced the production of tomatoes, eggplants, green beans and cucumbers in Cameron Highlands by 25% to 35%.
“It takes between 75 days and 80 days from planting to harvest for tomatoes and 45 days for cucumber. I believe production will return to a stable level after the rainy season,” he said.
According to the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama), the rising vegetable prices were temporary. It said from November to December last year, farmers on the east coast had reduced planting due to the north-east monsoon.
This caused supply to decrease in early January to mid-February this year, it said in a statement.
Fama said the increase in vegetable prices was also due to the closure of operations by some wholesalers and retailers during the Chinese New Year holidays in the fourth week of January when resources were limited, particularly in Cameron Highlands, Pahang and Lojing, Kelantan.
“This situation is expected to improve in mid-February this year when farmers on the east coast begin planting for short-term crops, particularly okra, long bean, cucumber, eggplant, and other vegetables with production periods ranging from 25 to 40 days,” it added.