Tamu traders hard pressed to make ends meet

MIRI: It has been a very difficult time for all ‘tamu’ (farmers and local produce markets) traders here during the movement control order (MCO) period, which took effect on March 18 and resulted in the closure of all ‘tamu’ from March 21 to 29.

Ering Lupa, a 60-year-old Kenyah from Ulu Baram who is currently living in a squatter’s area in Pujut Corner, said the pineapples at her orchard in Kebalui have over-ripened.

“To get to the orchard, we have to take a 45-minute boat ride. With the MCO and closure of the tamu, my husband and I are afraid to harvest our pineapples as we have no place to sell the fruit,” she said when met at Tamu Pujut Corner yesterday.

According to Ering, she usually harvests about 100 pineapples weekly, to be sold between RM2 and RM6 per fruit.

“However, since the tamu re-opened on March 29, I have only sold a few because not many customers come during the short trading hours of 7am to 2pm.”

For this week, Ering only made about RM100. She had given away the ripe pineapples to other traders, instead of letting the fruit go to waste this week.

Another trader, Bua’ Uchat, 60, who had been selling ‘lemidin’ (wild fern buds) at Tamu Pujut Corner for about five years, said her regular customers from the restaurants had yet to contact her for orders since the MCO.

“Usually, they would call to order 5kg to 10kg (of lemidin), priced at RM15 per kilogramme,” said Bua’, who would earn RM100 daily prior to the MCO – now, she could only take home about RM30 to RM40 daily.

“This is very little, because my family depends on the sale of lemidin to survive daily,” said the squatter resident of Pujut Corner.

When asked about food assistance during MCO, the traders said they had received aid from Democratic Action Party (DAP) volunteers, who distributed food at the tamu last week.

Source: Borneo Post

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