Many Malaysians lament over expensive food items

PETALING JAYA - Fresh greens are not only getting costlier but also scarce as vegetables are quickly snapped up after arriving at the markets.

Canteen operator Janaki Chiew lamented that prices of many vegetables had been rising steadily since early last month.

She said long beans, sawi (mustard leaves), kangkung (water convolvulus), cabbage and brinjal had become expensive.

"Everything has gone up by 40 per cent to 50 per cent. Long beans which used to cost RM6 (S$2.27) are now RM10 per kilo.

"Traders claim their profit is only between 15 per cent and 20 per cent because if the prices are too high, they will lose customers," she said.

Housewife Pat Boey said her regular vegetable seller in Kepong had been charging RM1 for a few stalks of spring onion.

"I used get a bunch for 50 sen, but now I am paying double."

In George Town, chef Alex Heng Song Ling of the You Yen Vegetarian Centre said he had no choice but to pay more.

"What can I do? I run a vegetarian restaurant and greens are my main ingredients.

"I now pay between 30 per cent and 50 per cent more for chillies. I have to absorb the costs because I can't simply change my prices with vegetable costs rising so often."

Leaf Healthy House manager Candy Lee said she paid between 20 per cent and 40 per cent more for greens last week and found that some vegetables were not available.

She said she paid between 20 per cent and 40 per cent more for cauliflower and broccoli last week.

Federation of Malaysian Consumer Association secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj urged the Government to implement strong agricultural policies to ensure food security and sustainability.

He said food prices skyrocketed each time there was a crisis.

"We need a long-term approach so that we are not dependent on just a few farms," he said.