Foreign demand good for biz, not for locals

STATISTICS show that Bruneians are snapping up huge amounts of items such as rice, sugar, flour, fish and chicken as well as vegetables and fruits daily.

A recent survey in Miri showed that Bruneians buy up to 3,000kg of fruits from Miri every day; and their favourite fruit is bananas.

During the durian season, as much as 10 tonnes of durians from Miri are exported to Brunei.

Due to the demand from Brunei, the prices of such fruits in Miri are about three times higher than in other urban centres in Sarawak.

These interesting details were presented for discussion during an event.

Statistics showed the lucrative potential of agriculture in Miri which has fertile land.

But it also showed a need to check outflow to Brunei so that locals do not suffer shortages or high prices.

The presence of the Bruneians in Miri is not only causing prices of food and services in this city to shoot up constantly, locals might possibly find shortages of certain items when the foreigners overbuy.

Due to the high demand for fruits from Brunei, Miri farmers can earn a very high income every month if they can produce enough.

No wonder banana cultivation is seen as a lucrative industry, with more farmers being urged to venture into it on a bigger scale.

Miri is also being earmarked as the main farming and production centre for the Musang King durian.

State agriculture authorities are looking into creating a special zone in Miri to mass produce Musang King for the whole state and later for export.

Musang King durian can fetch up to RM60 per kg in Miri due to demand from Bruneians.

While this is good for business, it is bad for the locals who have to pay high prices.

There is a real and urgent need to limit the outflow of essential foodstuff from Miri to Brunei.

The state government must control the amount of essential food items and fruits that can be sold to foreigners, in order to protect the interests of the local population.