GOPENG: Malaysia will continue to face shortage of local beef and dependent on imports, said Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman.
With the shortage, he said Malaysia was forced to import livestock products from Thailand and Australia, as well as frozen meat from India.
He said this caused the price, caused by the currency exchange rates, to be passed on to consumers.
It was reported that Malaysia currently produced 52,000 tonnes of beef worth RM169 million and import beef worth RM1.14 billion annually to meet local demand of about 191,000 tonnes.
"The shortage is not only experienced during festive seasons such as Raya Aidiladha.
“Unless the production is increased, we will continue to import beef to meet the demand.
"One of the measures to address this is to encourage more entrepreneurs to venture into livestock market by opening cattle farms," he said after the launch of #FAMAFest which runs until Sunday at the Gopeng Rural Transformation Centre (RTC).
Tajuddin said the government offered various incentives and programmes to assist entrepreneurs in starting up their farming operation.
"The price hike occurs when the supply is lower than demand. This is where programmes to guide and monitor contract farmers (such as the one under National Feedlot Corp) comes in to address this, but entrepreneurs must be willing to take up the opportunity to establish their cattle farms, for instance," he said.
There are currently 15 locations used as satellite farms run by 46 operators under the programme, with production of 1,317 tonnes worth RM36.456 million recorded last year.
"Livestock Sector Entrepreneurial Transformation Scheme (Skim Transformasi Usahawan Sektor Ternakan or TRUST) for instance, allow farmers to borrow bull cattle for breeding purpose, guided by the respective state Department of Veterinary, which also provides assistance for vaccination service," he told a Press conference when asked to comment on statement by Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin on the inevitable price hike of meat due to increase of demand, which forced consumers to resort to imported beef.
Hamzah had said the prices difference was more glaring due to the currency exchange rate.
Meanwhile, Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (Fama) chairman Badruddin Amiruldin said the expo which offers various fruits, food and flowers from 171 booths, was expected to draw some 200,000 visitors with a turnover of RM2 million.