PUTRAJAYA, June 9 — The Cabinet, in a meeting yesterday, agreed on the implementation of several short-term measures, including setting up a stockpile of chicken, to address issues of food supply shortage and price hikes.
Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee said the establishment of the chicken stockpile would be done immediately through the Farmers Organisation Board (LPP).
He said the Cabinet meeting also took note of the current status of the country’s food supply, namely chicken, beef/buffalo meat, eggs, fresh milk, fish, vegetables and rice.
“Generally, the country’s food supply is adequate to meet the needs for local consumption,” he said in a statement here today.
He said the Cabinet also agreed on the measure to simplify the process of payment of chicken price subsidy claims by allowing advance payment of claims, especially for small- and medium-scale breeders, which will enable claims for subsidy amounting to RM157.53 million to be paid immediately.
Also agreed upon were the measures to simplify the Department of Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services’ (MAQIS) import procedures (IP) on four commodities, namely soybean, wheat, corn and livestock feed, by deferring permit fees and creating a priority lane for fast entry until the chicken supply returns to normal.
Ronald said the import licensing procedures under the Department of Veterinary Services would also be expedited through interim approval beginning July 1, with the approval process to be completed within seven working days compared to 30 to 90 days previously, which will benefit 380 importers of livestock feed.
“Also agreed is for a review to be carried out on the electricity tariff for agrofood sector to reduce the operating cost of food manufacturers,” he said.
Ronald said a special exemption will be given for the recruitment of foreign workers in the chicken breeding industry to enable optimal implementation of the poultry farming activities, hence ensuring continuity of production.
He said the mechanism to reduce the cost of crude palm oil to selected feedmill operators to reduce the cost of feed would also be studied.
Ronald said the technical committee to address issues of national food security will meet on weekly basis to monitor the status of the country’s main food commodity supply as well as identify issues and find short-, medium- and long-term solutions to national food security issues.
He said a new food security policy cluster had also been set up, known as the Strategic Communications Cluster under the Cabinet Committee on National Food Security Policy (FSCC).
“It is to ensure that the people get a continuous and effective message and information on the country’s food security as well as to convey government initiatives on food security,” he said.
On the subsidy for chicken breeders under the Malaysian Family Price Control Scheme (SKHKM) amounting to RM729.43 million, Ronald said a total of 1,644 applications for subsidy claims worth RM113.2 million had been approved by the ministry so far.
He said the government had also approved a subsidy of RM0.60/kg from Feb 5 to March 30 this year, which was later increased to RM1.40/kg for the period of April 1-June 30.
“All farmers can submit their applications to have the subsidy channelled directly to them,” he said.
On June 1, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that beginning July 1, the government would no longer provide the subsidy to the breeders, but instead to channel it directly to the people in need of assistance.