MAFS to hold talks with Indian counterpart over white rice export to Malaysia

Consumers checking out the rice counters in a local hypermarket. The price hike in imported white rice has given rise to panic buying of local white rice, and a shortage of local white rice in many areas. Photo by Weekly Echo.

JOHOR BAHRU, Sept 25 (Bernama) — The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) hopes to hold a meeting with India’s Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister soon to find the best solution on the issue of white rice export restrictions.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu said that one of the essences of the government-to-government (G2G) meeting was to ask the Indian government to continue exporting white rice to Malaysia.

“Currently, at the ministry level we are in contact to get a (suitable) date so that we can travel there to discuss G2G. If possible within this week, if he gives a date, then we can travel there.

“We will ask them to continue exporting white rice to Malaysia. That is our hope because if they suddenly restrict white rice export, it will lead to an increase in the price of rice in Malaysia,” he said.

He said this to reporters after the Pulai parliamentary and Simpang Jeram state seat by-election workers’ appreciation ceremony, here, last night.

He said this when asked to elaborate on the details of the discussion he was hoping to convey to India’s Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Minister following the issue of restrictions on the export of white rice by that country.

In the meantime, he said the restrictions have caused the price of export rice in this country to increase dramatically, causing consumers to switch to local rice which is much cheaper.

“Our rice supply is still sufficient, it’s just that if the imported rice price is fairly high, it causes people to look for local rice and this has caused a slight shortage in some places.

“However, we are addressing it now with the harvest in the area of the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (MADA) which will be in the market in less than a month, and even now, we are trying to ‘top-up’ any shortages,” he said.

In July, India reportedly banned the export of non-basmati white rice to curb the rise in rice prices in the domestic market following a supply shortage due to heavy rains which affected the crop.