PETALING JAYA - The price rise of coconuts in the country is partially due to an increase in demand within the Asian region.
Malaysian Agricultural and Development Institute (Mardi) Genebank and Seed Centre deputy director Mohd Rashid Rabu said the increased demand was from China and Thailand.
"Increasing demand results in a drop in supplies, which leads to higher prices of imported coconuts from Indonesia.
"Malaysia does not produce sufficient coconuts, especially for processing into other goods like kaya and coconut milk," Rashid said, adding that Indonesia was the commodity's highest exporter in Asia.
He said there were many industries and products in the country that required coconuts.
He added that Malaysia imports nearly 800 million coconuts annually, of which 90 per cent comes from Indonesia and the rest from the Philippines, the second highest producer in the continent.
"Currency rates also play a role in affecting the price.
"There has also been an increase in the public's demand for coconut water." said Rashid.
He said many efforts by the Government to increase the local supply of coconuts included replanting coconut trees and increasing the varieties.
"The Government is also pushing the Matag variety to make it sufficient for the demand of the local market."
Muslim Consumers Assosciation of Malaysia (PPIM) chief Datuk Nadzim Johan said his members had also noted a price increase of between 50 sen and RM1 for a coconut in several areas in Kuala Lumpur over the last two weeks.
He said the increase in prices were seen in markets in Taman Tun, Gombak and Ampang among other places.
He believes the increase is due to profiteering by middle men.
"Those selling coconuts think they might as well make more money, because people will still buy them at whatever the price.
"And if consumers are not careful and proper enforcement is not taken, this will become a culture very soon," he added.
He said the Government must enforce the laws and charge those who are profiteering, while Malaysians must keep vigilant of such profiteers.
On Thursday, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin warned traders against jacking up the prices of coconuts and coconut milk.
He said there was enough supply of coconut to meet the demand.