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Ramadan gives income boost to watermelon farmers

— The tradition of Terengganu people in treating watermelon, also known as “timun cina”, as a must have when breaking the fast has been a boon to local farmers and traders of the fruit during Ramadan.

A farmer, Baharudin Ibrahim, 53, said that based on his 15-year experience as a watermelon farmer, the demand for watermelons would double during Ramadan compared to other months.

‘’Furthermore, the current hot weather makes watermelon always in demand in the market. Usually, most farmers will schedule their planting so that their watermelon crops can be harvested throughout Ramadan.

‘’There is no problem regarding marketing because I have just signed a contract farm sale and purchase agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries to supply 60 tonnes of watermelons to the state’s Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) for Ramadan,’’ he said when contacted by Bernama today.

Currently, three districts in Terengganu have been turned into major watermelon cultivation areas for marketing nationwide, namely Setiu, Besut and Marang.

A fruit seller, Fauzilah Ibrahim, 52, said watermelon is the best-selling fruit at her stall near Gong Badak, Kuala Nerus each Ramadan because it is the favourite of people in Terengganu for breaking of fast.

‘’Apart from its delicious taste, it is also suitable to be turned into fresh juice to restore energy after fasting the whole day … the uniqueness for people of Terengganu is that it can also be eaten as a salad with rice.

‘’The demand for watermelons has gone up by 20 per cent seven days into Ramadan …There are also regular customers who buy them daily because the stock that I sell is newly harvested from farms in Kuala Terengganu and Setiu. So, the fruit is fresher and sweeter,’’ said Fauzilah, who sells the fruit at RM3 a kilogramme.

Meanwhile, Terengganu FAMA director Che Ghani Che Wan said FAMA had signed a sale and purchase agreement for 330 tonnes of watermelons to meet the projected high demand throughout Ramadan.

‘’The sale and purchase agreement, worth more than RM264,000, is aimed at facilitating farmers to sell their watermelon produce at a stable price to avoid price instability due to the interference of middlemen.

‘’At the same time, this will ensure adequate supply of quality watermelons in the local markets, in accordance with the stipulated specifications,’’ he added.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Rocketing chicken price, ministry suggests more APs be issued

— The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) today suggested that more approved permits (APs) be issued for the import of chicken to control the price increase.

Its deputy minister, Datuk Rosol Wahid said to ensure this could be implemented, his ministry would be discussing the matter with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries (MAFI) soonest possible.

“If the wholesalers and poultry breeders are trying to take advantage of the situation by hiking up the price of chicken, we can offer (APs) to interested companies. I believe this problem can be solved by issuing more APs to import chicken.

“The issuing of APs is a good suggestion and we will discuss the matter with MAFI as the APs for importing chicken come under the jurisdiction of MAFI, not KPDNHEP.”

Rosol said this when met by reporters after surveyig the prices and supply of basic necessities at the Chabang Tiga Market, Kampung Hiliran Jejawi, here, today.

He visited the market after receiving complaints from the public that the price of chicken had increased by between 30 and 40 sen since last week and today, it is being sold at RM10 per kilogramme.

The price of other items like meat and vegetables were also said to have gone up and due to this, several traders were asked to provide information on the prices charged before further action could be taken.

Rosol also said that until April 18, 42 notices on chicken price increase have been issued to 25 wholesalers and 17 poultry breeders, respectively.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Detection of South African B.1.351 variant: MKN needs to review flexibility – Khairy

Coordinating Minister for National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin today expressed his concern over the detection of 17 COVID-19 cases with the South African B.1.351 variant in the country which would impact the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme.

He said that once the variant spread, some of the vaccines will not be effective against it and the rate of virus transmission would go up.

Therefore, he said the National Security Council (MKN) needs to review some of the flexibility given so that the immunisation programme would not be affected.

“My greatest worry is the variant of the virus. Yesterday, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced that there are already 17 cases of the South African variant in Malaysia and we know that this particular variant is not only more transmissible but the vaccines are less effective against it.

“If we are non-observant of the standard operation procedures (SOP), the fourth wave will be worst than the third wave,” he told a press conference after visiting the Negeri Sembilan Vaccination Centre (PPV) at the Seremban City Council Hall here today.

Prior to this, Dr Noor Hisham reported that the South African B.1.351 variant was found in three cases of the Jalan Lima Cluster in Hulu Langat and Sepang districts, Selangor; Kebun Baru Cluster, Kuala Langat (nine cases); Teknologi Emas Cluster, Kuala Langat (one case) and close contact screening (one case).

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Petrol, diesel prices remain unchanged until April 21

The retail prices of RON95, RON97 and diesel will remain unchanged for the period of April 15 to 21, with each still priced at RM2.05, RM2.54 and RM2.15 per litre respectively.

In a statement today, the Finance Ministry said the prices are based on the weekly retail pricing of petroleum products using the Automatic Pricing Mechanism (APM) formula.

“To protect the consumers from global oil price increases, the government will maintain the ceiling price of RON95 at RM2.05 per litre and diesel at RM2.15 per litre, even though the market prices for RON95 and diesel have increased beyond the current ceiling prices,” the statement said.

It added that the government will continue to monitor the trends of global crude oil prices and take appropriate measures to ensure the continued welfare and well-being of the people.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

DMU trains to boost East Coast’s economic, social, tourism sectors – Wee

The Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) trains that were launched today will bring reforms and boost the economic, social and tourism sectors in the East Coast, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

He said for a start, five of the 13 DMUs would start operation for the East Coast alignment involving the Tumpat-Gua Musang and Gua Musang-Kuala Lipis routes.

“The DMU trains, worth RM380 million, are much better than conventional trains in terms of comfort for passengers.

“The service provided is equivalent with the developed countries, proving that the government is not only focusing on the Klang Valley but also the East Coast,” he told at a press conference after launching the DMU trains at the Pasir Mas Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) Station, here today.

Also present was State Works, Infrastructure, Transport and Utilities Committee chairman Datuk Azami Mohd Nor.

Earlier, Wee and his entourage had boarded the train at the Tumpat KTM station and disembarked at the station here.

The DMU trains were procured to replace the KTM Intercity conventional diesel train service, with each coach having 204 seats and equipped with modern facilities, such as LED screens, power sockets, prayer room, toilet, bistro and parcel storage space.

The train also has four seats and toilets for persons with disabilities (PwDs).

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Oil discovery will bring development impact to Mukah – S’wak CM

— The new oil and gas discovery in the shallow waters of Balingian by Petroleum Nasional Bhd (Petronas) will positively impact not only the sub district but also Mukah Division, said Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

With the oil and gas belt stretching from Balingian to Miri, he said a new base for operations may need to be set up in Mukah and when it happens, it will spur development in the division.

“However, it is too early for us to say but we will see how Petronas will operate (after the discovery). What is important is that we have done the core infrastructure development here,” he told reporters today.

Earlier, he witnessed the handing over of Metading food court by the Land Custody Development Authority (LCDA) to Dalat & Mukah District Council here.

On March 30, Petronas announced a new oil and gas discovery in the Sirung-1 wildcat exploration well of Block SK405B Production Sharing Contract (PSC), located in the shallow waters of Balingian Province, 237 kilometres off the coast of Miri, Sarawak.

The Sirung-1 exploration well was successfully drilled to a total depth of 2,538 metres in February 2021.

The discovery of significant oil and gas column exceeding 100 metres within the Oligocene to Middle Miocene sandstone reservoirs further validates the potential of the Balingian Province, with remaining prospects yet to be explored.

Meanwhile, Abang Johari said the Metading area will become the new development focus in Mukah Division.

Besides the newly completed food court, a tamu (open market) and housing area have been planned for the area, which will be implemented by LCDA.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Leaked audio recording: No reports received so far – Saifuddin

The audio recording of a conversation purportedly between UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and his PKR counterpart Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would be investigated only if a report on it is lodged.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said both the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and CyberSecurity Malaysia have yet to receive any report on the matter.

“We will wait and if there are reports lodged, such cases will be investigated by CyberSecurity (Malaysia), and so far there have been no reports received by us… not that easy (to act against those who spread content), if there are reports we will investigate,” he told reporters before being granted an audience with the Raja of Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail at Istana Arau here today.

Saifuddin was asked to comment on an audio recording of a conversation between two individuals with voices resembling Ahmad Zahid and Anwar, which allegedly took place after the UMNO General Assembly.

The recording has gone viral on social media.

On his audience with the Raja of Perlis, Saifuddin said Internet connectivity and the development of the digital economy were among the topics discussed with Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin.

“Tuanku Raja Perlis was very interested not only in connectivity but also in Perlis’ progress in terms of the digital economy,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency