JOHOR BARU: Vegetable prices are increasing due to damage to crops by the floods. With many roads also cut off by the floods, produce has become scarce.
The Government is trying to address the shortage by importing more vegetables.
Checks by The Star here showed prices of vegetables increasing by between 20 per cent and 50 per cent with many vegetable traders saying they were struggling to obtain supplies.
Vegetable trader Idah Mokhtar said, "Even if supplies are available, transportation to bring them over is another major problem".
"The prices of various vegetables, especially those imported from Cameron Highlands, have increased by at least 20 per cent," she said at the Larkin market here yesterday.
Idah said tomatoes had risen from RM3 (S$1.15) to RM4.50 per kg while cucumber and French beans had shot up from RM0.80 to RM3 per kg and RM6 to RM9 per kg respectively.
At the Tebrau market here, trader Liew Wen said prices for vegetables sourced from Batu Pahat and Cameron Highlands had increased by some 50 per cent.
Johor Fama director Faridulatrash Md Mokri said vegetable supply started getting low about a week ago with prices rising by 40 per cent to 50 per cent.
He said prior to the floods, Cameron Highlands round cabbage sold at RM1.50 per kg but it was now RM3.
Fresh red chillies, meanwhile, had rocketed from between RM8 and RM10 per kg to between RM14 and RM15.
Faridulatrash said Fama would offer discounts of between 40 per cent and 50 per cent on nine commonly consumed vegetables to customers at farmers' markets in the state until the end of the month.
In Petaling Jaya, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the import of vegetables and other produce would help maintain supply.
"We are aware there is a shortage of supply, resulting in a spike in prices of vegetables. We expect prices to stabilise once additional imports reach here. However, authorities in charge must also check for traders who are profiteering," he told The Star.
He said the ministry had also taken steps to ensure there was no shortage in fish supply, halting exports in October and directing the National Fisherman's Association to buy over all the stock, have it frozen and sold locally during the wet season.
Ismail said farmers in Kelantan were the worst affected as floods had destroyed padi due to be harvested, vegetable farms, fruit orchards, livestock and thousands of fish bred in cages.
"As for livestock, the large tracts of land where poultry farming is carried out is largely outside Kelantan and in areas not affected by the floods, so no (nationwide) shortages are expected," he said.
The floods, he said, also affected small enterprises in the agro-based industry, adding that losses in this sector would be significant as stock, raw material and machinery that were damaged by rising waters had to be taken into account.
"It will be a while before everything returns to normal and my ministry will do all it can to help the farmers and the small entrepreneurs," he pledged.