Expensive vegetable prices expected with hike in land lease fees, former deputy agricultural minister warns

Sim said farmers who formerly paid only RM900 to obtain a temporary occupation license (TOL) now have to fork out RM4,500 an acre per year and this will pose burden on consumers.  — Reuters pic
Sim said farmers who formerly paid only RM900 to obtain a temporary occupation license (TOL) now have to fork out RM4,500 an acre per year and this will pose burden on consumers. — Reuters pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — PKR’s Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin has warned of possible vegetable price increase due to high land lease price recently announced for Cameron Highlands farmers. 

Sim said farmers who formerly paid only RM900 to obtain a temporary occupation licence (TOL) now have to fork out RM4,500 an acre per year and this will pose burden on consumers. 

“When the cost is increased, farmers will have to increase the price of vegetables too and this burden will then be passed on to our consumers. 

“Are Malaysians ready to eat high priced vegetables? This will affect our food security because food price will be expensive too,” he told reporters during a press conference at the media centre in Parliament here. 

The former deputy agriculture and agro-based industry minister also said that the land lease price hike will affect 2,041 farmers in Cameron Highlands. 

On Monday, the Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail said the state government will not budge from the implementation of the new lease scheme due to pressing need to resolve issues that have been plaguing the area such as farmers who illegally encroach on public land risking the environment. 

He was also in January quoted as saying that vegetable farmers in Cameron Highlands who were operating under the TOL status on a yearly basis can now enjoy renting land for three years in a row with a maximum of three acres’of land. 

To be eligible for the land lease registration, farmers are to acquire the Malaysian Good Agricultural Practice certificate within 30 months of application. 

After three years (the length of land lease), farmers can opt to continue the lease for an additional two years. 

Expressing similar concerns, Tanah Rata assemblyman Chiong Yoke Kong, has through memorandum to DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke, has also urged the Pahang state government to review the new land lease price. 

Chiong said the Cameron Highlands farmers are willing compromise to pay up to RM3,000 a year or RM250 per month instead of the RM4,500 stipulated by the state government. 

“The option is to extend the length of the contract to a maximum continuation of 30 years,” he said. 

He added that farmers in Cameron Highlands are not big-time farmers who own 50 acres of land. 

“They only operate on two or three acres of land or the maximum is five acres. 

“I hope Loke will bring up this issue in the Dewan Rakyat so that the voices of Cameron Highlands farmers will be heard. 

“I hope this issue will be allowed for discussion and debated in the Parliament,” he said. 

When asked if the farmers have voiced their concerns to the Pahang state government prior to requesting for federal government intervention, Chiong claimed the farmers were ignored by the state administration.

Previously reported by The Star, Wan Rosdy clarified that the 500 per cent hike was a malicious accusation. 

He said the RM4,500 includes quit rent, assessment tax, water usage charges, environment charges and agricultural waste management charges. 

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