20,000 tonnes imported yearly, and country still short of chickens

Agriculture and Agro- based Industry Minister Noh Omar gave the assurance that the price of chicken, which had gone up steeply to RM8.20 per kg, would return to normal by April.

He explained that a shortage of chicken in the market was not anticipated as the demand for chicken was usually low in March.

Nevertheless, he said, the price hike could not be disputed as it was determined by market supply and demand.

“The demand for chicken is usually high in January and February due to the festive seasons, but the supply is always sufficient in March. However, demand has risen steeply this year, probably due to weddings and school holiday events,” he told reporters here.

While admitting that the price of chicken was still low as compared to neighbouring countries, Noh said the uncertain weather condition, which affected the breeding, process and the 60 per cent increase in the price of chicken feed mixtures like corns and soybeans had also contributed to the price hike.

Hence, the minister said, as a precautionary measure, the ministry would establish a stockpile programme to meet the rising demand for chicken and to ensure sufficient supply.

“A motion on this matter will be submitted to the Cabinet for approval soon so that the policy to support the programme can be formulated,” he said.

He also refuted an allegation that linked the hike in the price of chicken in the country to the tsunami tragedy in Japan.

Noh stressed that 20,000 tonnes of chicken were imported annually from China, Thailand and European countries and the “halal” issue was given top priority by the ministry.

“We never import chicken or beef from Japan because there is no halal slaughtering house there,” he said.

— Bernama