Agricultural crisis in Johore – lift government ban immediately

Speech by DAP Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on the Committee Stage Debate on the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 17.1.1973

DAP calls on immediate lifting of government ban on the import of chicken droppings or fowl dung manure to end the agricultural crisis in Johore

I have received representations from Johore farmers about the agricultural crisis they are facing as a result of the government ban on the import of ‘ chicken droppings’ or ‘fowl dungs’ manure into West Malaysia from Singapore from 1st of December last month.

The ban on the import of chicken droppings has created a major agricultural crisis and threatened the livelihood and employment of thousands of people in the vegetable and fruit growing areas in Johore, and who comprise both Chinese and Malay farmers.

For the last two decades, the vegetable and fruit farmers in Johore have used the chicken droppings imported from Singapore as the staple or basic manure for their cultivation. The vegetable farmers found from experience that the chicken droppings manure is superior to the chemical fertilizers for two chief reasons:

Firstly, the chicken droppings ensure better and faster vegetable and fruit growth. Chemical fertilizers are used as a mere accompaniment, and in some cases, are used only in the ratio of 1:25 when compared to chicken droppings.

Secondly, the chicken droppings they import from Singapore are 15 to 20 times cheaper than chemical fertilizers.

The ban on the import of chicken droppings from Singapore will not only lead to poor productivity and low quality of the vegetables and fruits, but to such high costs of production as to make it economically unfeasible to be engaged in vegetable and fruit cultivation in Johore. This will throw several thousands of Chinese and Malay farmers, presently dependent in this sector, into unemployment. Already the farmers in many parts of Johore, as in Yong Peng, Ayer Itam, Machap, Batu Pahat, are unable to re-cultivate because of the import ban.

I am very shocked that the Government should imposed this ban when there is no local alternative comparable in price and quality. Such an action will probably benefit a handful of MCA businessmen, while thousands of people are threatened with the loss of earnings and livelihood. If the government will send teams of officials to visit the affected areas, they will find confirmation of the agricultural crisis in Johore. They can even go and ask the ketua kampongs of the affected areas to find out for themselves how this measure is adversely affecting the livelihood of thousands of Malay farm workers and farmers.

It is also highly irresponsible on the part of the Government that despite representations the Johore farmers have made to it against the ban, the Ministry of Agriculture has just ignored their pleas and representations. In fact, up to this date, the Ministry of Agriculture has failed to give the Johore farmers a cogent reason for the ban.

The continued ban on the chicken droppings from being imported into Johore will not only break the ricebowls of several thousands of farmers in Johore, it will also lead to a steep rise in the price of the vegetable and even local fruits. Already in the Johore markets, the prices of vegetables are beginning to rise.

Under the Alliance rule for the last 15 years, there has been an endless rise in price of consumer goods. Sugar, milk, cakes, a cup of coffee or tea, clothes, shoes, books – in fact, you name it, it has increased in price. In many cases, the government is directly responsible for their rise in prices.

A good instance is the ban on the import of chicken droppings which will lead to more expensive vegetables and local fruits in Southern Malaya.

I call an the Ministry of Agriculture to look after the welfare of the farmers and to take swift action to get the ban on the import of chicken droppings into Johore lifted and save the Chinese and Malay vegetable farmers and fruit growers from their crisis of unemployment, retrenchment and even bankruptcy. Otherwise, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Alliance Government must bear full responsibility for the hardships, sufferings and unemployment caused to the Johore vegetable farmers and fruit growers from this short-sighted ban on the import of chicken dropping manure.