Between a rock and a hard place for vegetable wholesalers

Vegetable wholesalers say demand from wet markets and supermarkets has been falling as more areas are placed under lockdown.

PETALING JAYA: Vegetable wholesalers are facing a conundrum brought on by the Covid-19 crisis as direct demand for their produce falls amid fears of infection following the lockdown of the area surrounding the Selayang wholesale market in Kuala Lumpur.

The Selayang market, the largest of its kind in the city, was closed for disinfection on April 20.

It was reopened last week although only 80 of its 216 stalls were allowed to operate.

However, the Kuala Lumpur Vegetable Wholesalers Association said members of the public were reluctant to visit their stalls as they feared contracting the virus.

“The whole building is almost empty,” association member Tong Cheng Tee told FMT.

He said demand fell further after other major wet markets such as the Taman Megah and Jalan Othman markets in Petaling Jaya and the Chow Kit market in Kuala Lumpur were closed for sanitisation.

Such markets would usually be among the biggest customers of the Selayang wholesale market.

Tong said the situation was further exacerbated by the fact that 80% of their workers were refugees restricted by the enhanced movement control order.

This in turn caused a shortage of manpower as there were not enough workers to load the vegetables into vehicles.

“The work is hot, hard and dirty which locals do not want,” he added.

“It’s like all the problems decided to hit us at the same time.”

To prevent wastage, he said, wholesalers had been selling their produce to retailers at whatever price they demand. Otherwise, many of their vegetables rot and are thrown away.

Retailers, on the other hand, would be able to sell their vegetables at a higher price as there are fewer markets open these days, he said.

“Everyone wants to make money.”

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