Chicken or egg? Poultry farms in a flap

The egg-grading machine used in QL Eco Farm Sdn Bhd’s factory is part of the company’s automation policy.

KUCHING: A recent government move to provide for cheaper chicken eggs in the market sadly had a reverse effect which ultimately led to supply shortages in the state since last month.

According to a reliable source from the poultry industry who spoke to New Sarawak Tribune,  the poultry farms were affected after the government implemented the Keluarga Malaysia Maximum Price Scheme (SHMKM) which saw eggs being included in the scheme.

He feared the poultry farms would suffer even more following the National Action Council on Cost of Living’s (NACCOL) decision on the Food Producers Industry on Jan 31 to maintain the prices of eggs under the SHMKM until June 5.

“The production of an egg is about RM0.45, and under the scheme, it is sold below that price.

“That is why poultry farms in the state are afraid to rear more chicken due to high production costs and at the same time having to sell below cost.

“As such, the supply of eggs has also dropped,” he said, adding that the imposition of the various movement control orders (MCO) had also affected farm operations.

He said the increase in egg price had to do with imported raw materials such as soybeans and corn.

“The cost increased by nearly 60 per cent,” he said.

“The labour cost also increased tremendously due to a shortage of farm workers, particularly with the restriction on Indonesian workers’ entry into Sarawak,” he said.

Besides that, he said given Sarawak’s wide area, egg prices would increase due to high transportation cost.

“A minimum of two cents per egg is needed to transport an egg from Kuching to Miri.

“However under SHMKM, egg prices in Miri and Kuching are the same, which we think is very unreasonable,” he said.

Following this, he said the supply from Kuching was not transported to Miri due to limited supply from the poultry farms and that the eggs were kept in Kuching for sale locally.

As such, he said if the government wished to continue to maintain egg prices, the government should provide all kinds of subsidies and assistance soonest to poultry farms as stated in the NACCOL decision on Jan 31 to reduce production costs.

“We also hope the government would be able to facilitate the entry of Indonesian workers immediately to ensure poultry farm operations are not further interrupted,” he said.

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