No truth to claims that foreigners dominate Penang’s veggie supply chain

GEORGE TOWN, March 23:  Penang will investigate complaints about foreign nationals engaging in illegal vegetable farming activities in the state to ensure that no state government land leased to local farmers is taken over by foreigners.

State Agrotechnology, Food Security and Cooperative Development Committee chairman Fahmi Zainol said, according to data from the Penang Agriculture Department, there are 641 registered farmers engaged in the cultivation of various vegetables and crops statewide.

Of that total, he said 163 farmers are in Seberang Perai Utara; 165 (Seberang Perai Tengah); 153 (Seberang Perai Selatan); 128 (Barat Daya); and 32 (Timur Laut).

Fahmi explained that this involved 704 hectares of land, refuting claims that foreigners had dominated nearly 80 per cent of the vegetable supply chain in the state over the past five years.

“Claims saying that 80 per cent of the area is controlled by foreigners through illegal farming are completely untrue because that figure involves 563 hectares of the actual area (704 hectares),” he said when contacted by Bernama.

Fahmi said this when asked to comment on a newspaper report last Thursday that foreigners illegally operating vegetable farms in Penang had allegedly controlled nearly 80 per cent of the state’s vegetable supply chain over the past five years, resulting in the closure of operations for 30 per cent of local farmers.

To help local farmers, Fahmi said that the State Agriculture Department has implemented various initiatives, including offering agricultural input incentives, providing machinery and equipment such as drones, irrigation systems, and advisory services to facilitate their agricultural activities.

He also highlighted the essential roles played by both the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) and the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDN) in overseeing, enforcing regulations, and controlling market prices, with plans to further strengthen these efforts.

Fahmi also hoped that KPDN and FAMA would assist the state government to monitor market prices of agricultural products in Penang and curb alleged foreign domination of vegetable supply.