Malaysian Producers Fear Imports from Thailand

MALAYSIA - Local producers in Sabah and Sarawak are protesting about the proposed importation of chicken products from Thailand.
calendar icon 24 July 2009
clock icon 5 minute read

Poultry farmers started a protest on 20 Jluy against the entry of a peninsula-based poultry company to supply fresh chicken to the State, saying it will affect the State's poultry industry, reports Malaysia's Daily Express.

President of Sabah Livestock Association, Datuk Mohd Tahir Picho, said allowing the company to supply chicken to Sabah starting next month would definitely create a supply glut in the State.

"Apart from the poultry sector, it is almost certain that other livestock and ancillary industries will also be adversely affected," he told a press conference here.

He was commenting on a report that Rancang Awal International Sdn Bhd has been granted approval by Thai company, Saha Farms Company Ltd, to supply chicken to Sabah and Sarawak from next month onwards. Saha Farms produces fresh chicken and processed food in Thailand.

He said the broiler industry in Peninsular Malaysia produces approximately 1.4 million chicken daily.

Sabah, on the other hand, produces only 75,000 heads, which works out to only 5.3 per cent of the total production in the peninsula, he said, adding that the State is self-sufficient.

Therefore, Mohd Tahir said if Peninsular Malaysia were to export one per cent of their total supply, which is equivalent to 14,000 heads per day, it would be equivalent to 20 per cent of total chicken supply in Sabah.

"The question is, can Peninsular Malaysia by exporting merely one or two per cent of their total supply to Sabah be able to save their current deteriorating chicken industry?

"On the contrary, it would create a massive supply glut in Sabah," he said.

In fact, he said the approval of 400 units of 40-footer containers of chicken wings annually, mainly from Europe by the Government, is already posing a serious concern to the local farming community in Sabah.

He said the association had on numerous occasions been appealing to the Government to reduce the approved annual quota to 120 units.

However, these have fallen on deaf ears.

Mohd Tahir said commercial broiler farming is not given any subsidy compared to its counterparts in other agriculture sectors such as paddy, cattle and goat farming and fisheries.

He said the move to approve Rancangan Awal International to supply chicken to Sabah is inconsistent with the State Government's stand to encourage local farming community to produce more chicken.

This is attained, he said, by means of improving farm technology and processing facilities so that Sabah can attain a level of self-sufficiency in locally produced chicken.

"However, the Government has been continuously allowing huge import despite the association's appeals to the relevant government authorities to reduce the approved import quota," he said.

Hence, he told Daily Express that the association considers such policy to be contradictory.

According to him, the number of poultry farms, both commercial and contract farmers in Sabah, collectively, has dropped from 200 farms in 2000 to about 90, currently.

This drop, he said, explained the difficulties faced by poultry farmers in the last 10 years whereby many have been forced to close shop.

He said the broiler industry in Sabah created direct employment to about 3,500 people and an additional 2,500 jobs through related industries such as feed mills, transport, medical supplies, chicken dealers and hundreds of chicken vendors in Tamu markets.

On the contrary, he said the number of frozen meat importers, approximately about 35 companies, is more than the number of major chicken producers in the State, which is less than 10.

To top it, he said the broiler industry in Sabah also has to grapple with the high cost of feed, threat of disease outbreak and investment return.

In this respect, Mohd Tahir hoped the State government would call the Sabah Livestock Association for discussion if they think chicken supply is inadequate.

"I hope the Government will reconsider the approval to Rancangan Awal International because from what we know, Thailand has not attained bird flu-free status yet," he said.

Mohd Tahir said in anticipation of the Hari Raya Puasa celebration in September, poultry farmers have already increased their production by 30 per cent.

He said they expect to produce about five million kilogrammes of dressed chicken to meet the expected surge in demand.

"Our producers also have in stock of about two million kilogrammes of frozen chicken," he said adding that the supply would be about seven million come Raya season.

This shows that Sabah could produce more than sufficient chicken for the its population, he told Daily Express.

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