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Consumer Groups Speak out against More Imports

14 May 2009

MALAYSIA - Consumer associations are against a government proposal to open the market to imported chicken, saying it will harm local poultry producers.

Two consumer bodies have poured cold water on the government's proposal to flood the market with imported chicken, according to New Straits Times.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations secretary-general, Muhammad Sha'ani Abdullah, said the suggestion to approve more import permits might complicate the situation.

"This puts us all in a bind. Are we to support our local industry or do we give an opportunity to middlemen to exploit producers?

"Importing [poultry] will not necessarily help consumers. Our local production is quite efficient, with the distribution mechanism being the issue," he said.

Calling the proposal 'misguided', Mr Sha'ani said it would make more sense to educate and empower consumers to dictate the price of goods.

He stressed that only consumers could have an effective impact on distribution and pricing of goods and that it would not cost the government a cent.

"Consumers must be told to play their part. If the price is too high or unreasonable, don't buy. It is a proven technique. Boycotts work."

Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam chairman, Jacob George, said liberalising the local poultry market was a short-term solution that could eventually wipe out the industry.

He said the main reason for soaring chicken prices was middlemen hiking prices before the chicken reached retailers.

"Of course, there are good guys among the middlemen, but it is profiteering and greed that is causing the problem. They are like parasites."

Mr George suggested open discussions between stakeholders, including the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, producers and consumer bodies.

"The pressure is on consumer groups to set a price index. Producers have a lot to lose if they have an open war with the government and consumers. This is not the time to destroy an industry.

"What we need is to develop a new [distribution] mechanism to address this issue."

Federation of Livestock Farmers' Associations of Malaysia broiler unit chairman, Kwei Yew Tong, declined comment, claiming the government had directed the organisation not to speak to the media until a decision had been made, concludes the New Straits Times report.

ThePoultrySite News Desk



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