Chicken farmers cry fowl over middleman pressure

Poultry farmers say they have experienced a drop in sales since the movement control order came into force. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: Poultry farmers have sought to distance themselves from complaints of an increase in price for chicken, saying middlemen and suppliers have in fact been pressuring them to sell their livestock at far below the ceiling price set by the government.

The farmers who spoke to FMT on condition of anonymity for fear of being blacklisted by such groups said they had been forced to sell their livestock at “dirt cheap” prices, causing them to lose up to 50% of their operation cost per chicken.

“We have to sell before the chickens get old,” one of them said, explaining that this means within 35 days of hatching.

But farmers are being pressured to sell even younger chickens on the cheap, he added.

“We are losing up to RM2.50 per chicken and up to RM10 for older chickens.”

And many of their chickens are increasingly falling into the second category.

Because of the movement control order (MCO) imposed in mid-March, he said, sales had been dropping.

“A lot of our chickens are overgrown. The middlemen and retailers don’t want old stuff.”

Of late, there have been complaints of an increase in price for chicken of up to RM9.60 per kg in several locations including Terengganu.

Another farmer told FMT that the ceiling price set by the government for live birds is by right RM5.70 per kg.

But he said farmers are rarely able to reach even that price as suppliers often push for the lowest possible terms.

“During the MCO, we didn’t even make enough money to buy chicken feed,” he said.

“We are asking for a fair price from retailers and suppliers, otherwise we will go bust.”

The farmer who runs a family business also called for a stop to the “bullying tactics” employed by middlemen and suppliers to get the lowest price possible.

He urged the government to check the delivery order sheets of farmers to ascertain the actual prices at which they are selling their chickens to suppliers.

Still another farmer told FMT he had applied for a bank loan in a bid to avoid bankruptcy.

“I have been losing money. I hope the bank approves my loan so that I can roll the money,” he said.

The Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam, Selangor (Cassa) said prices of food are going up across the board on grounds of limited availability.

Cassa president Jacob George said the association had been receiving complaints from restaurant owners who say that the prices of raw goods have been on the rise.

“It may not be about profiteering as some retailers say the prices of things have gone up,” he added.

However, he urged the government to go after middlemen, saying they are still determining the prices at which farmers sell their produce.

He said the government agencies involved in the production and distribution of food should have curbed such problems long ago.

“Government agencies have been allocated millions of ringgit but what is their function in smoothening the supply chain process?”

He also questioned the measures taken to increase food security, noting that the majority of food in the country is still imported.

He said a roundtable meeting between government agencies and stakeholders should be held to iron out these issues.

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