This is undoubtedly a critical time for the country. Vegetable farmers with their produce to sell. Consumers with a demand for these items. But apparently, somewhere in-between, the supply chain is grossly dysfunctional. Thus, farmers are holding onto their produce and consumers are anticipating vegetable price to increase as early as next week.
According to the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) market sources, the demand for vegetables is there, but then there is a short supply. When we enquired the largest vegetable producers in the country – Cameron Highlands – they explained that they are in such predicament due to transportation problems to deliver the vegetables to markets.
We reiterate what we said more than a week ago to policymakers, we ask the government to create Green Lanes for essential supplies to be transported nationwide with minimal restrictions. Creating Green Lanes is not rocket science and the European Union (EU) had envisaged it at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Food is essential if a country does not want more problems in their hands as food shortage can cause food prices to sky-rocket in times of economic doldrums.
Just for our information, EU comprising 27 countries already had Green Lanes operational for the transportation of essential goods such as food, medical and protective equipment, and packaging material for essential goods since March.
We expect the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) to live up to their name and get their act together. FAMA should play their role in organising and coordinating transportation for farmers to help them reach out to consumers. This is no time for bureaucracy or sitting on laurels as the entire country is in distress.
We would like to reiterate that Malaysia needs to desperately create Green Lanes nationwide and FAMA should help farmers to deliver their produce to the respective destinations. This has to be done before the prices of vegetables burden consumers.
Press Statement, 17 April 2020