Prices Of Vegetables Hike Due To The El Nino Dry Spell

vegetables price hike

Following the recent extended spell of hot and dry weather due to El Nino, prices of vegetables have hiked by between 30% and 50%. Due to the heat and lack of water, the local supply of vegetables have reduced by 20% since April 2016,, and as a result, prices have increased.

The worst-hit state due to the dry spell is Johor, which produces some 60% of the nation’s vegetables. The shortage had also affected supply of vegetables to Singapore by about 20%.

Eighty percent of our vegetables are kept for local consumption and the rest were exported to Singapore.

Neighbourhood countries like China, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, from where Malaysia imports vegetables, are equally being cautious of their supply as they are also facing shortages due to dry climate.

This has largely affected both leafy vegetables like mustard leaves, watercress and cabbage as well as non-leafy vegetables such as long beans, chilli, cucumber, pumpkin and bitter gourd.

In Ipoh, round cabbage, Chinese cabbage, spinach and capsicum were among the vegetables found to have almost doubled in price. In Cameron Highlands, production for the vegetables had declined since mid-March and prices are up by 50%. The output at the highlands has also dropped by between 30% and 40%.

VegetablePrevious price per kg
Previous price per kg
Chinese cabbageRM1.50RM2.50
SpinachRM2.00RM3.50 - RM4.00
CapsicumRM5RM7.00 - RM8.00
Round cabbageRM1.50RM3.00
Red chillies -RM18.00
Long beans-RM8.00

Though the supply of vegetables is expected to increase with the recent rains, it would not be feasible to return back to normal as another dip is anticipated during the fasting month in June.

During this period, Indonesian farm workers typically head back to their hometowns, leaving farm owners shorthanded. Moreover, the freeze on foreign workers has put farm owners in a situation where they can’t employ labourers from other countries to replace those heading home.

Excessive weather, too much rain or too hot, can negatively impact the crops.

As restaurant owners and food operators are affected by the price hike, some are calling on the Government to import more vegetables from neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Vietnam or Thailand to temporarily stabilise prices.

Currently, restaurants had no choice but to absorb the cost as there would not be any increase to the food prices. If this prolongs with no intervention from the Government, restaurants may close shop due to the high operational cost.

[Source 1] [Source 2]

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