PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The transportation of vegetables from areas under the enhanced movement control order such as Cameron Highlands to other parts of Malaysia is allowed, Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong clarified on Wednesday (June 16).
Datuk Seri Dr Wee said the Cabinet agreed that agricultural workers such as farmers can continue tending to their produce and transporting them even if they are in areas subject to movement restrictions.
“The Cabinet has decided that these are essential services, and that vegetables and crops must be transported immediately to supply the whole of Malaysia,” he said at a news conference.
“According to our guidelines, essential services should not be stopped at all, and we reaffirm that agricultural activities must be allowed, even in areas under the enhanced MCO,” he said.
“The supply of vegetables is essential, and if the lorries and trucks are not allowed in, or if workers cannot enter their farms, then we will face problems.”
There was initial confusion over the matter as reports emerged that prices of vegetables from Cameron Highlands were expected to increase by 30 per cent to 40 per cent after several areas there were placed under the enhanced movement control order.
It was reported that the price increase was anticipated because of an immediate stop to production, with 12,000 foreign and local workers unable to leave their homes to get to work.
However, Dr Wee said that Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Ronald Kiandee had since spoken up on behalf of the farmers, while Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin will ensure that enforcement officials are fully informed of the matter.
“In the past, the general principle was that you have to stop all activities in EMCO areas. But with the lockdown now, we need to make sure there is an adequate supply of vegetables,” said Dr Wee.
“We know that Cameron Highlands supplies a lot of vegetables, not just to Malaysia, but to Singapore as well. Hence, if these crops cannot be transported out, we will face a shortage in supply.”
Datuk Seri Dr Kiandee had also said that the confusion surrounding the movement of agricultural workers in EMCO localities has been resolved.
“The issues concerning the movement of agricultural workers in Cameron Highlands – at the farm, packaging and logistics stages – due to the EMCO, have been settled.
“The Cabinet has agreed to allow the agricultural sector and its supply chain to continue operating,” he wrote on Twitter.
In Balik Pulau, Deputy Agriculture and Food Industries Minister II Datuk Che Abdullah Mat Nawi said his ministry, through the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama), has been taking various actions to address the cause of possible price hikes.
“The ministry is well aware of the matter, and Fama is taking action to resolve the problem. We have received information about the price hike,” he said. “With the country placed under lockdown, it is undeniable there will be problems in some areas and issues will arise.”
He added: ” Our officers are stationed at various places and we will ensure that any problems along the whole chain, from the producers to the end-users, will be looked into and resolved from time to time.”
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