CAP Response on Price Survey by the Penang Hindu Association

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is alarmed but not surprised by the increase of prices of essential cooking ingredients as revealed by the Penang Hindu Association (PHA).

The PHA survey involved a price check of spices, grains, pulses, condiments and essential cooking items that are largely used in an Indian household.  The increase in price of pulses seems to be inevitable. India, despite being a world leader in pulses production has been forced to import due to crop loss and seed deficit (Down to Earth, 16-31 August 2015 article titled Missing Pulse).

Production of agricultural commodities is often subject to weather conditions, seeds availability, pests and diseases.  Dependence on food imports will thus expose Malaysia to the problems faced by the producing country, market volatility and foreign exchange rates.

The sharp increase of prices of essential food items will surely render problems to consumers, especially the poor. It is unfortunate that parents have opted to send their children to orphanages and homes due to the increase in the cost of living, as reported by PHA.  Social safety nets and other measures that provide targeted assistance to the vulnerable groups are sorely needed.

Malaysia should also look to increasing its food security and lessen its dependence on food imports.   CAP is advocating urban and natural farming as it will not only promote food security but will provide much needed nutritious chemical-free, locally or home-grown food.

When a household produces food, its expenses are reduced, which can lead to important savings for poor households. On our part CAP will experiment planting several types of grains and propagate to other farmers so that we need not be too dependent on food imports.

The support of the government is needed to achieve the full potential of local food systems.  Support is also needed for the vulnerable and poor households to tide over tough times because it is even a problem for them to stick to the basics and purchase essential items.


Comment to New Straits Times, 1 September 2015