Penang pig farmers told to buck up after pollution scare

Reuters pic

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government has vowed stern action against the operators of two pig farms on the island’s southwestern tip of Gertak Sanggul which have allegedly been discharging untreated pig waste into the sea.

State Agriculture, Agro-based Industries, Rural Development and Health committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said the stench of the raw waste was affecting those living along the coast while the waste itself was depleting the fishermen’s catch.

When contacted, he said the two farms had been given a compound of RM250 each under local council laws.

“I’m very upset over the irresponsible acts of some pig farmers who have failed to properly supervise their farms.

“The state government will not compromise but will take stern action against the pig farmers who do not meet the set procedures.

“We also hope that the more open pig farms will be converted into enclosed ones soon.”

Pig farms have long been associated with Gertak Sanggul, where over 10 piggeries operated some 20 years ago, forming one of the town’s economic mainstays.

Penang in general rears about 300,000 pigs yearly, a large number of which are exported from some 400 farms on the island and in Sebarang Perai.

However, the farms have begun to take a toll on the environment as waste is rarely treated at the source. As a result, it ends up in rivers or the sea, inconveniencing residents and destroying marine life.

On Saturday, The Star reported that pig farms had polluted a remote beach with what was suspected to be pig waste. This followed a complaint from a resident over the strong stench emanating from the nearby shore. The water along the usually deserted beach also appeared black in colour.

In November 2016, the Penang state assembly passed a law to ensure that all pig farms are enclosed and the waste properly disposed of. Most pig farms are currently in an open environment.

Under the Penang Pig Farming Enactment 2016, farmers who flout the guidelines face a maximum of three years in jail. The law only comes into effect on Jan 1, 2020, to give farm owners time to upgrade their farms. In the meantime, local council laws and federal government laws are applicable to piggeries in Penang.

The farmers have been told to submit plans for enclosed buildings to local councils by Dec 31.

Of the 385 pig farms in the state, only 15 had converted their open farms to enclosed ones as of August, the state government said.