01/11/2023 02:39 PM

KUCHING, Oct 30 (Bernama) -- Consumers in Sarawak are urged to avoid panic buying following the government’s decision to lift the subsidies and price controls for chicken, effective this Wednesday.

Sarawak Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said although the announcement might result in higher retail chicken prices in the state, the ministry would continue to monitor the floating chicken prices to protect the interest of consumers.

“The price will increase according to the cost of production as the government no longer gives subsidies to prevent losses to poultry farmers, and it will be determined by supply and demand. If the price is too high, we can open importation to stabilise it,” he told Bernama when contacted today.

According to him, the announcement, however, does not affect the supply in the state, as Sarawak can still meet consumers’ demand for fresh chickens.

Currently, the retail price of chicken in Sarawak varies according to districts, from RM9.80 to RM13.90 per kilogramme.

In the meantime, some traders expressed concern that their business activities would be affected if chicken prices rose significantly following the recent announcement.

Chicken rice seller, Senah Idris, 53, said food traders like her may incur losses and not receive the expected returns.

“If the price goes up too high, it will be tough for us traders. Our capital and profits won’t match and we have to consider the current economic situation if we want to increase the selling price.

“But if chicken price remains the same or only increases by about RM2, we can still maintain food prices. Whatever it is, we have to wait and see the price offered by traders and suppliers,” she said.

Earlier today, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu announced that the move to float the chicken price was done to prevent leakages of subsidies, which are also enjoyed by foreigners and high-income groups.

However, the government agreed to continue subsidies for grade A, B and C eggs according to the existing mechanism.

Meanwhile, Sibu Member of Parliament Oscar Ling Chai Yew said floating chicken prices was the best option because they can help local farmers balance the increase in global feed prices.

“To avoid losses, they have to reduce production, and this will disrupt the supply of chicken in the local market,” he said when contacted.

Ling also said that during his dialogue with the related associations last December, the producers informed him that they were willing to compete with the prices of imported chicken and eggs if the government was willing to float the prices.