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Farmers Blame Problems On Fry Imports

Economics Politics +2 more

MALAYSIA - About 50 siakap fish fry farmers at Kampung Pok Kiang and Kampung Keluang have been hit by a drop in demand since the beginning of the year.

To make matters worse, the fish have grown to more than 30 centimetres in length, more than twice the maximum marketable size of 10 to 13 centimetres, according to New Straits Times.

And, the bigger fish consume large quantities of expensive feed pellets which cost between 90 ringgit (MYR; S$38.68) and MYR112 per bag of 20kg.

"We are in a quandary as the maximum-sized fish fry normally fetch between MYR1 and 1.20 each. We cannot sell at that price now since the fish had grown so big and it cost so much to feed them," said farmer Ibrahim Muhammad.

He said there were more than a million fish that were past the marketable size in the two villages.

"Two months ago I had to sell 100,000 fish measuring around eight centimetres at 35 sen each to a wholesaler as I did not want them to add to the number of overgrown fish in my ponds. We are worried that the fish will soon die from lack of oxygen as the stagnant water in the ponds only have enough oxygen for small fry."

He said there were rumours that smuggled fish fry from Thailand, which sold at below market price had caused the demand to drop.

Another fish fry farmer from Kampung Keluang, Azmi Ismail, said he had more than 30,000 fish that had grown more than 10 centimetres in his 11 fish ponds.

"The market has dropped and there is no news from the usual wholesalers," he said, adding that he had not been able to sell anything since February.

He said he had to fork out about MYR1,000 every month to feed the fish and the cost would increase as the fish grow in size.

State Fisheries Department director, Zakaria Ismail, said they would try and help the farmers.

He said the department was finalising the quotations for wholesalers to buy the fish fry before supplying them to aquaculture farms.

"We will buy hundreds of thousands of fish fry through the wholesaler that has the best bid."

He told New Straits Times that he had not received any complaints about smuggled fish fry from Thailand but gave an assurance that all fish fry going through the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine points along the Malaysia-Thai border would be subject to stringent screening.

"Aquaculture farms risk getting unhealthy fish fry if they opt for smuggled fry," he said.