CAMERON HIGHLANDS - Every day since last month, 100 tonnes of tomatoes have gone to waste because of oversupply.
Federation of Malaysian Vegetable Growers Association secretary-general Chay Ee Mong said the glut started after the farm price of tomatoes hit RM4 ($1.54) per kg in December last year.
"Suddenly, tomatoes became an attractive commodity to plant and, at one time, there were between 300 and 400 farmers planting tomatoes," he said here yesterday.
He said the price of tomatoes had dropped to between 20 sen and 30 sen because of the glut, adding that the highlands' daily output of the fruit was 300 tonnes.
"We can sell only 200 tonnes, so the rest has to be disposed of."
The association, said Chay, had asked the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) to step in to arrest the slide in price. "Fama has agreed to increase its intake to 15 tonnes weekly from four tonnes."
Chay said Fama was buying the fruit from farmers at 80 sen per kg.
He said the situation would improve when Thailand started importing tomatoes from Malaysia.
"We expect exports to start in June."
To avoid a similar incident from recurring, Chay reminded farmers to conduct market research before planting produce.
"Do not blame others when the vegetables you plant do not fetch a good price."
Tomato farmer S. Nanthakumar, 32, said he had no choice but to dump his produce.
"We cannot afford to pay the transport cost to send the tomatoes outside Cameron Highlands."