Malaysia chicken breeders in the dark about whether exports will resume but cheer signs of market recovery
Following remarks in parliament that there is now an oversupply of chicken, breeders are optimistic that exports to countries like Singapore will be reinstated soon.
JOHOR BAHRU: Poultry breeders in Malaysia are in the dark about whether the government would lift the chicken export ban in the short term, but they have welcomed remarks by the agriculture minister that the market situation has stabilised.
On Monday (Aug 1), Minister of Agriculture and Food Industries Ronald Kiandee told parliament that Malaysia is now in an oversupply situation and can export chicken to other countries.
Mr Kiandee, who was responding to a parliamentary question by Pematang Pauh member of parliament Nurul Izzah Anwar, said that Malaysia had faced a disruption in chicken production several months ago. But this has been overcome by policy measures, including increasing imports and ceasing exports.
“These steps have resulted in an oversupply of chicken now, causing its price to drop below the ceiling price set by the government,” added the minister on Monday.
“At this point in time, we are able to produce 106 per cent of our needs for chicken. This means we have the capacity to export chicken from our country.”
When approached by CNA on Tuesday, Johor Poultry Breeders Association president Lim Ka Sheng said that he and fellow chicken breeders in the southern state have not received any notice that exports would resume soon.
“MAFI (Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries) hasn’t told us anything on when and if exports will resume. I suspect the decision to lift the export ban completely has not been made, and will need to be approved by Cabinet first,” said Mr Lim.
“But if the ministry does inform us (that the ban will be lifted), we will move quickly. It takes about 30 to 45 days for us to breed a new batch of chicken," he added.
Federation of Livestock Farmers' Associations of Malaysia (FLFAM) advisor Jeffry Ng also said that breeders in other parts of the country have yet to receive any confirmation on when exports will resume.
"I suspect that MAFI will issue a written letter to breeders to inform us of plans to lift the export ban. We look forward to that," said Mr Ng.
CNA has reached out to MAFI for comments on whether the export of chicken will resume soon.
BREEDERS BUOYED BY MARKET RECOVERY
Mr Ng was also buoyed by the minister’s remarks in parliament that the market has stabilised.
"The comments he made in parliament are positive news. We hope it will lead to the resumption of normal business soon," added Mr Ng.
He said that FLFAM wrote a letter to MAFI last month, urging for the export ban to be lifted.
He told CNA that many FLFAM members have ongoing contracts with Singapore customers, with whom they have cultivated a relationship over many years.
"We are optimistic. Now that there’s no more chicken shortage crisis and the price has stabilised, why not resume exports?” he said.
Mr Lim, who runs a farm near Kota Tinggi, added that the prices for chickens are now fairly stable. He noted that chickens are being sold in some parts of Johor Bahru below the price ceiling of RM9.40 (US$2.10) per kg.
“The market is back to a normal level. I’ve seen chicken being sold at RM7.50 per kg even,” said Mr Lim, who has been exporting chickens to Singapore over the last decade.
The Malaysian government had earlier banned the export of up to 3.6 million chickens from Jun 1 in its efforts to tackle the supply and pricing issues for chicken in the country.
The ban came about after complaints of supply shortage and price increases of chicken, with some traders selling their chickens above the price ceiling to cover their costs.
In tackling the problem of rising chicken price, the government had set a new ceiling price of RM9.40 per kg for standard chicken from Jul 1.
Malaysia’s poultry industry players have urged the government to lift the chicken export ban, or they will lose out on the Singapore market.
In response to the export ban, Singapore announced that it will buy chickens from other places including Indonesia and Thailand.
Singapore imported about 34 per cent of its chicken supply from Malaysia. Almost all of the chickens were brought in live and then slaughtered and chilled locally.
In the days leading up to the ban and after, chickens were in high demand in Singapore, with prices rising. Some chicken rice stalls also shut down temporarily.
Malaysia partially lifted the ban and allowed poultry importers in Singapore to resume bringing in live kampung and black chickens from Jun 14.
On Jul 13, the first shipment of chickens left Jakarta under a new arrangement for Indonesian companies to export chicken to Singapore.
Looking ahead, Mr Lim of the Johor Poultry Breeders Association said that he was confident that Malaysia will be a major importer for Singapore again when the ban is lifted.
“It’s still easier to transport chickens via lorries and road rather than via sea. It’s a simpler and cheaper way,” he added.