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Enough rice supply to meet domestic demand, says Mat Sabu

The agriculture and food security minister says the stockpile could last for up to five months.

2 minute read
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu. Photo: Bernama
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu. Photo: Bernama

The country's rice supply is sufficient to cover domestic needs for another four to five months, and there is no urgent need to use the stockpile, said Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu.

He said the country now has a stockpile of 900,000 metric tonnes of rice, consisting of 250,000 metric tonnes of government stockpiles and 650,000 metric tonnes of commercial stock.

"As such, the ministry is of the view that there is still no urgent need to use the stockpile (buffer stock) amounting to 250,000 metric tonnes.

"The existing commercial stock of 650,000 metric tonnes is sufficient to cover domestic needs," he said when winding up the debate on the motion for the 12th Malaysia Plan mid-term review in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Commenting on the increase in the price of rice, he said the increase only involved imported white rice (BPI), while the price of local white rice remained at RM2.60 per kilogramme.

"Beginning 2023, Bernas not only has to absorb the rising cost but also supply rice at 38% more than usual. However, Bernas continues to commit to importing rice to meet supply.

"The BPI price adjustment of up to 36%, that is, from RM2,350 to RM3,200 per metric tonne from Sept 1, 2023, was implemented by Bernas to reduce the increasing losses in covering the cost of purchase and import," he added.

He said the shortage of rice supply in the domestic market is expected to be restored within one month.

The ministry, he said, was also actively implementing initiatives to increase the country's rice production in order to reach the target of 80% in the self-sufficiency rate, or SSR, by 2030.

The initiatives being carried out included the implementation of the Large-Scale SMART Padi Field programme, which has been expanded by targeting 150,000 hectares of padi fields with an average yield of seven tonnes per hectare.

The ministry, following an engagement session with the traders association on Sept 15, has agreed to offer wholesale licence to members involved in the food business.

"Through this wholesale licence, food entrepreneurs can enjoy BPI's purchase price at a fixed wholesale price of RM 160/50kg," he said.

On the Indian government's ban on exporting non-basmati white rice, Mohammad said the ministry hoped to meet with the Indian agriculture and farmers' welfare minister to discuss the matter.

"Bernas is also in negotiations with other rice-producing countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia," he said.

Mohamad said various intervention measures were taken to overcome the issue of the local white rice shortage, including detecting illegal activities such as hoarding.