Malaysia: Heat takes a toll on the greens

HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM The Star 4 Apr 16;

PETALING JAYA: The hot spell is taking a toll on vegetables, fruits and flowers as well.

Not only are the prices of the greens expected to rise, the quality of the produce is also likely to suffer.

The lack of rainfall, shortage of water supply and hot weather caused the production level of vegetables to drop, said Cameron High­lands Vegetable Growers Associa­tion secretary Chay Ee Mong.

In March, there was already a drop between 10% and 20% in ve­­getable production.

“The quality of the vegetables is also affected. Our vegetables are grown in the highlands so the rising temperature is not suitable.

“In certain areas, there is a lack of water and irrigation problems. Also, there has been no rain over the past six weeks.

“If there is still no rain, there will be (more) shortages but the effects will be felt (by consumers) maybe in a month or two,” said Chay.

Cameron Highlands usually produces at least 600 metric tonnes of vegetables daily.

Chay said the rising temperature had also caused pest problems, leading to poor quality vegetables.

Some leafy vegetables such as sawi and kangkung are cheap as they are produced in the lowlands and are not affected by the hot weather.

“Only certain vegetables like the French beans and cabbages will be more expensive,” he said.

French beans, which used to cost RM3 to RM4 per kilo are now more than RM5 a kilo while the price of cabbage, that used to be between RM1.20 and RM1.50, is now more than RM2.

Cameron Highlands produces about 20 types of vegetables that include tomatoes, spring onions, watercress, radish and celery.

The production of fruits was also affected by the dry spell, said Selangor Fruit Farmers Association secretary Hoh Peng Keong.

Hoh said production was expected to drop further next month due to the weather.

Similar to vegetables, he said there was a drop in quality of the fruits harvested.

Asked on the prices, Hoh said that there was a possibility of a price hike but it would also depend on market forces.

“If there is a shortage of supply and there is demand, the prices will increase.

“At the same time, if the quality produced is not that good, people may not buy them,” said Hoh.

Cameron Highlands Floricultu­rists Association president Lee Peng Fo also blamed the hot weather and lack of water supply for a 10% to 20% drop in the production of flo­wers there.

Lee, however, said the prices of flowers would not increase.

“The prices will maintain for now,” he added.


Pomelos taking a pummelling in the heat
IVAN LOH The Star 4 Apr 16;

IPOH: Farmers in the Tambun area here are not pruning their pomelo trees as they do not want them to flower, and then wither and die in this hot weather.

Tambun Pomelo Growers Asso­ciation chairman Chin Too Kam said the production of pomelos had now fallen drastically and the price of the fruits was expected to go up.

Chin said most farmers in the area were expecting about a 40% drop in yield of the fruits in the coming months, between June and September.

He said pomelo growers were finding it hard to grow the fruits due to the hot weather.

“Many are not pruning their trees as they do not want them to flower. It’s not easy as it will incur extra costs on fertilisers and water, and there’s also the risk of the quality of the fruits being affected,” he added.

He said the lack of rainfall would affect the size of the pomelos.

While the fruits could fetch a good price, he said the production cost would be higher.

“It is a risk and we could end up making losses,” he said, adding that most of the growers preferred to slow down production.

Although there was no change in price for now, he added that it could go up soon.

“The price has remained the same since Chinese New Year,” he said.


Vegetable prices soar in Malaysia amid heatwave
Prices of greens have risen in Malaysia - some as much as 50 per cent, sellers at a local market say - as the country's vegetables wither under the extended spell of hot weather.
Melissa Goh, Malaysia Bureau Chief, Channel NewsAsia 5 Apr 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The ongoing hot spell in Malaysia has taken a toll on the local produce - and falling supplies have led to rising prices, vegetable sellers at the country's capital say.

Tomatoes, chillies, French beans and cabbages produced in Malaysia's Cameron Highlands have seen their prices gone up by more than 20 per cent, partly because of the current heatwave, according to vegetable sellers at a neighbourhood wet market on Tuesday (Apr 5).

"It's not 10 to 20 per cent; it's 50 per cent," said K Kanesan, a vegetable seller. "If the hot weather continues for another 2 to 3 months, it'll be very, very bad."

The hot spell has also reduced the quality of vegetables as well as fruits in the market, some shoppers told Channel NewsAsia. Many complained that the produce is not as good as before, particularly pomelos and papayas produced locally - they are smaller and not as sweet, the consumers said.

"Some of the vegetables are very dry, but we have to take them because we have to eat, right? What to do?" said a woman at the market.

Farmers and traders have voiced their hopes that the authorities will help ease their plight by launching measures to solve the water shortage, such as cloud-seeding and improving the irrigation network.

- CNA/pp


Vegetable prices rise on heatwave
Melissa Lin Straits Times AsiaOne 9 Apr 16;

Farms in Malaysia were initially able to cope with the dry spell by using water from reservoirs to grow their crops. However, the prolonged drought has dried up reservoirs, causing the production of vegetables to fall.

The heatwave in the region has led to more costly Malaysian greens at wet markets here.

Prices of cucumbers, long beans, bittergourds and brinjals have risen by 10 per cent to 20 per cent since last week, while French beans and tomatoes now cost 30 per cent to 40 per cent more, according to Mr Jerry Tan, assistant secretary of the Singapore Fruits and Vegetables Importers and Exporters Association.

At a wet market stall in Yishun, the price of Malaysian-grown chye sim has gone up from $2.80 per kg two weeks ago to $3.50 this week. Kangkung was selling at $3.30 per kg, up from $2.50.

While Malaysia has been suffering from a dry spell for the past month - with the heatwave causing schools to be closed for two days - farms there were initially able to cope by using water from reservoirs to grow their crops, according to the association.

However, the prolonged drought has dried up reservoirs, causing production of vegetables to fall.

The growth rate of vegetables slows significantly when the temperature rises above 35 deg C, according to Mr Tai Seng Yee, executive director of Zenxin Agri-Organic Food, which has farms in Johor and Cameron Highlands.

His farms now produce around four tonnes of vegetables a day, about a 20 per cent drop from before the heatwave. However, he has yet to raise the price of his produce which is sold at Cold Storage and Giant supermarkets here.

"We continue to maintain our prices since organic vegetables are already priced at a premium," he said.

Supermarket chains, which tend to have more bargaining power because they buy in bulk, have yet to be affected. FairPrice, Sheng Siong and Cold Storage said prices and supply of their Malaysian greens remain stable for now.

Meanwhile, prices of kai lan and chye sim from China have almost doubled from a year ago, with importers blaming the cold snap that hit the country earlier this year.

The cold can freeze crops, while rain can cause plants to rot and wither faster than usual.

Prices of China-grown garlic have gone up by about 30 per cent to 50 per cent at supermarkets here, The Straits Times reported last week.

Despite the weather woes, consumers do not have to worry that there will not be enough vegetables to go round as importers can get supplies from other countries, said Mr Tan.

"Once our stock drops below a 'safe' level, we will activate supply from other countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia and India," he said.

Prices of these vegetables, however, will be higher than those of Malaysian vegetables as it costs more to transport them to Singapore.

Housewife Tee You Na, 64, said: "If I like the vegetables, I will still buy, never mind if it is more expensive."

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