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Sabah to import four containers of pork to overcome shortage

by January 12, 2018 General

Recently, vendors and buyers have been complaining of short supply of pork that have resulted in prices jacked by as much as 20 to 25 per cent and also sold out stock. — AFP picRecently, vendors and buyers have been complaining of short supply of pork that have resulted in prices jacked by as much as 20 to 25 per cent and also sold out stock. — AFP picKOTA KINABALU, Jan 12 ― The State government is taking measures to ensure sufficient pork supply in Sabah for the coming Chinese New Year festive season till the third quarter of the year.

State Veterinary and Animal Industry Department director Dr Nasip Eli said that they have been aware of the shortage for some time and have decided to allow the import of pork on a special basis for the coming festive holidays.

As an immediate remedy, we will allow the import of four containers of pork to meet demand. We have contacted the importers and this should be able to supply the market for the short term,” he said when contacted.

The four containers containing in-demand pork cuts such as the belly, two will be for consumption in Kota Kinabalu, while one container each is expected sent to Sandakan and Tawau.

He said that the pork will only be sourced from disease-free nations such as Spain and Denmark.

“Normally we do not allow any importation but now there really is a need for it. We have discussed this with pork producers in the state and checked the market. There is definitely a shortage, and we needed to address it immediately,” said Dr Nasip.

Dr Nasip said that Sabah has about 51 pork producers including a handful of big commercial farms while others are small time farmers who in total produce about 120,000 pigs per year.

But recently, vendors and buyers have been complaining of short supply of pork that have resulted in prices jacked by as much as 20 to 25 per cent and also sold out stock.

Checks with abattoirs within Sabah has seen reductions of supply by up to 50 per cent.

“This began about two to three months ago when our regular vendor charged us RM4 more per kg. He told us that this was because the suppliers, the pig farmers had also raised the price because the cost of pig feed has been rising since the GST began,” said Donnie Wong, who runs a stall selling barbequed and roasted pork.

Another roasted whole pig seller, Joneville Tinun said that he has started paying a higher price since early last year to ensure he has a steady supply to see his business run without interruption throughout the year.

“I knew that GST and the rising costs of feed would eventually result in lower production so I had to ensure I got in with the supplier early. They have barely enough to provide to all his current customers, what more during peak periods or when there is more customers,” he said.

He said the price of raw materials and raw pork has gone up so much that a whole roasted pig which would cost RM900 last year would now cost RM1,200.

Wong said that the talk among sellers was that farmers were intentionally producing less output in order to gain a higher profit margin.

“Another theory is that they prefer to sell pork to Singapore where they fetch a higher price,” he said.

When asked whether such claims were true, Dr Nasip said he had heard such talk but that the department’s checks on the farm indicated they were unlikely to be true.

“First, it isimpossible for them to export to Singapore. They have very stringent conditions  that have to be met, so I doubt this is happening. Peninsula, maybe, as we did it last year when there was an oversupply of pork here,” he said.

Dr Nasip also dismissed claims that the big pig farmers were intentionally holding back on production for their own gain.

“They have a commitment to fulfill the demand here, and their licence can be taken away if they are found to be contravening a law. It’s more likely that they are affected by the rising cost of production.

“The price of pig feed, even locally has gone up and that constitutes 50 to 60 per cent of their production costs,” he said.

The Borneo Post yesterday reported that pig farmers in Sabah  have already taken steps to increase supply by 10 to 20 per cent but the shortage is expected to persist till September as pigs take time to mature.

The report quoted an anonymous pig farmer who said that the problem began after the GST took effect in 2014 and sales of pork meat dropped.

An oversupply resulted in the farms experiencing a loss although authorities had allowed a special export of the meat to Peninsula Malaysia.                  

He said that to combat the current insufficiency, he said several pig farms around Sabah have spent over RM2.6 million to import 160 pigs from Ireland in efforts to improve the quality and production of pigs in the state.

The 160 boars and sows were flown in from Ireland to Kota Kinabalu after transiting Singapore last October, and have been distributed to around 10 large-scale and smaller farms and have begun breeding.

Dr Nasip said that they will review the situation again with pig farmers after the Chinese New Year peak period to come up with another solution in the interim.