Reduce fruit exports to stabilise prices, Malaysian government urged

PETALING JAYA - Export of local fruits should be reduced temporarily until production returns to normal, said Consumer Association of Penang (CAP).

Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the association had received many complaints about the increase in the price of fruits.

"Consumers are complaining that local fruits - papayas, rambutans, pineapples, bananas - have become so expensive.

"In the markets, the traders are grumbling that they are forced to raise prices due to the drop in supply.

"We visited several farms and saw for ourselves that the fruit trees, such as papaya trees, are bare," he said when contacted.

He urged the Government to temporarily cut down on its exports of local fruits to keep prices from shooting up.

"We should stop exporting so much, so we have enough for domestic consumption and the price will be under control.

"These are the most nutritious food, it is important to ensure that fruits are affordable," he said.

Another option, he said, would be for authorities like Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) to facilitate consumers getting the fruits directly from farmers instead of going through middle-men to cut the cost.

Nutrition Society of Malaysia (NSM) president Dr Tee E Siong said individuals should consume two servings of fruit each day.

"Two servings means, for example, one banana and one apple, or one papaya and one guava.

"Even now, people do not consume the recommended intake. With higher prices, this may become worse," he said when contacted yesterday.

Intake of fruits, he said, could not be substituted with vegetables as it contained different nutritional value.

"Even before the drought people were saying local fruits were expensive.

"It is important for Fama to keep the prices of fruits under control," he said.