Fewer pomelos for CNY due to haze and rain
LAST year's harvest of pomelo in Malaysia has dropped by almost half due to the haze and rainy season, with fewer fruit being sold in the market.
With a significant dip in harvest, prices are expected to go up by 10 per cent.
Pomelo farm owner Chin Too Kam said the shortage also affected exports.
"We've greatly reduced the number of fruits for export and are now catering to the local market.
"We want to ensure the locals and our regular customers are still able to get the fruit, especially for the Chinese New Year celebration," he added.
Mr Chin, who is also Tambun Pomelo Growers Association chairman, said the hazy weather that affected the country about seven months ago had stunted the growth of the fruit.
"Following the hazy season, the torrential rainfall also affected the pollination and this further affected the yield," he added.
"With fewer fruits to sell, we are expecting pomelo sellers to be affected by a drop in sales," he said, adding that the product could fetch good prices during Chinese New Year.
"Despite the drop in the produce, the quality is still high," he said.
He added that the buying power of consumers has also weakened due to the global economic outlook.
"With an expected slight hike in prices, most sellers expect businesses to be slow," he said, adding that one fruit could fetch up to RM23 (S$7.70), depending on its size.
Mr Chin said the pomelo was a good gift to be presented to friends and relatives during Chinese New Year. The pomelo, or look yau as it is called in Cantonese, symbolises prosperity.
"The word 'look' sounds like rolling, which means incoming and 'yau' means have.
"Both words combined mean abundance," he said, adding that the fruit was often used in prayers during the festivities.
A pomelo seller, who wanted to be known only as Ng, said business was still slow with about two weeks to go for Chinese New Year.
"We hope business will pick up soon. I think most will buy the fruit at the eleventh hour," he added.
Many sellers rely on tourists on normal days.
"On and off, I get tourists from Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore but they can't buy a lot because they can't bring these past the customs checkpoint at the airport," he said.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK