Agriculture Minister calls on consumer to support local chillies

NOORSILA ABD MAJID


PUTRAJAYA: Local consumers need to cut down on their dependency on imported chillies that are of inferior quality and support locally produced premium chillies.

Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek today pointed out that the local produce is of higher quality.

“Our local chillies are premium chillies. Their quality is better than the imported ones,” Ahmad Shabery told reporters after launching the ‘Eat More Local Chilli’ campaign at the Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (Fama) farmers market here this evening.

“So this campaign aims to educate our people to choose local chillies over the imported ones.

“The problem with our people is that they prefer imported chillies because they are cheaper. If we don’t support our local chilli farmers, they will soon be out of business and our chilli market will be controlled by the foreigners.”

Malaysia currently produces 60 per cent of its own red chillies to meet the local demands, of which there are two varieties, Cili Merah Minyak and Cili Merah Kulai.

“We still import 40 per cent of chillies from our neighbouring countries and there are certain months where they will dump a lot of chillies in our market, like in the month of May,” he said, adding that it is impossible for the country to say no to the excess stock due to trade pacts in place.

This has caused locally-produced chillies to lose out due to the price war.

“As our chillies are of premium grade, the cost of production is higher. They are sold between RM8 to RM9 per kg,” he said.

According to price checks conducted by Fama, imported chillies are sold between RM2.50 to RM2.80 per kg.

The ‘Eat More Local Chillies’ campaign is expected to benefit some 2,000 young agropreneurs in the country.