Small scale farmers forced to take loans from loan sharks as palm oil, pepper prices drop

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Dec 25: There have been many cases of Chinese small scale farmers from Serian who run away, leaving behind their families to escape from illegal money lenders (Ah Long) after failing to service their loans.

According to Muara Tuang assemblyman Datuk Idris Buang, these farmers got into trouble due to the drop in the prices of primary commodities such as palm oil and pepper.

“Due to the low prices of primary commodities, small scale Chinese farmers have no money to buy fertiliser and weed-killer which are needed to sustain their farming.

“This is where the vicious circle starts. In order to sustain their crops despite low prices of their produce, they borrow money from Ah Long.

“When prices of primary commodities continue to stay low, they cannot make enough money to pay the Ah Long. Finally, they have to run away, leaving behind their wives and children,” Idris told DayakDaily today.

He said he was told of these sad stories by the Chinese community leaders in his area who had a discussion with him recently at his service centre.

“I was very shocked to hear that and I have been thinking of how to help them,” said Idris.

He said these Chinese community leaders in his area told him that China preferred to import palm oil from Indonesia because it was cheaper, causing low demand for palm oil in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, pepper prices, he said, had dropped from RM60 per kilogramme to RM20 per kilogramme, as informed by the said Chinese community leaders.

For palm oil, its price has been dropping since last year.

“Our local small scale farmers are suffering. We urge the Ministry of Primary Industries (Teresa Kok) to look into the matter.”

Idris said these Chinese community leaders asked for aid from the Sarawak government since there has been no assistance from the federal government.

“I will bring this matter up to the chief minister and discuss with him. Both federal government and state government must each play their part to help,” said Idris. — DayakDaily