Poultry industry happy with permit decision

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PETALING JAYA: Poultry farmers have received an early Chinese New Year gift as the foreign worker ban on their sector has been lifted.

This means that consumers can hope to see a reduction in the prices of chickens in the future.

But, Federation of Livestock Farmers Associations Malaysia president Datuk Jeffrey Ng said it may take some time for the workers to arrive.

“This is a big help for me as it solves the main issue of labour shortage. This is a big ang pow for us,” he said yesterday.

“Small farms that have closed due to lack of foreign workers can be reopened when the workers come in. For me personally, my seven farms can return to full capacity.”

Ng said he has had to rest one of his farms and transfer workers from there to the other six to keep them operating at an optimal level.

He added that they would start preparing the documents to submit to the Home Ministry, but pointed out it would take at least three to four months before the foreign workers arrive.

When the workers arrive, it should take a few weeks for broiler farms to return to full operation while for breeder farms (chicks) and layer farms (eggs) it would take a few months.

“But until new workers come, I will have to rest one of my farms, so hopefully the process can be done quickly,” said Ng.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is Home Minister, announced that the Cabinet committee on foreign workers and illegal immigrants had agreed to allow the poultry farming sector to employ foreign workers in order to ease the worker shortage.

The Star reported last week that poultry farms in the country are suffering a shortage of 5,000 workers which has added to a loss in production and supply.

This, in turn, had increased the prices of broiler chickens.

Ng said by replenishing the workforce, this would allow farms nationwide to function at full capacity and see more consistency in the supply of chickens.

“I hope the market price for chickens will be more reasonable and it should be able to stabilise.”

Ng mentioned that hiring foreign workers would be more expensive as the industry members had to compete with other countries like Thailand which were also hiring workers, while the currency exchange would increase costs.

“At least for now, it’s not so bad as the ban has been lifted and the main problem can be solved,” he added.

Cameron Highlands Vegetable Growers Association secretary-general Chay Ee Mong said they would wait for more details on the fee for rehiring illegal foreign workers.

Chay said last year’s 6P Programme for legalising foreign workers was costly as the total fee was more than RM5,000 for one foreign worker.

“If the range is between RM2,000 and RM3,000, then the overall cost is not too burdensome,” he said.

“So we will wait and see what is the latest details before we decide.”