Operations to prevent hoarding, increase production, other measures taken to ensure sufficient supply of local white rice – Mat Sabu

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18: Various measures have been taken nationwide including operations at factories, wholesale and retail levels to prevent the hoarding of local white rice while long term plans of increasing local production of rice have been put in place to ensure sufficient supply of white rice, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Mohamad Sabu informed the Parliament today.

He also said an operation carried out by the ministry nationwide since July, on claims of local rice being packaged as imported rice and sold at higher price, found no solid evidence to support the claims.

He said this in response to several Members of Parliament who had raised the issue of a shortage as well as of a price hike in local white rice in retail shops and supermarkets in the country.

Speaking during the winding-up speech of his ministry on the Mid-Term Review of the 12th Malaysia Plan, Mohamad also said the country had faced a similar situation in 2008 and 2014, and listed out various intervention plans being taken by the present government to ensure a sufficient supply of local white rice for the people.

He said a total of 500 inspection and enforcement sessions were carried out from July 17, involving rice producing factories, wholesalers and retailers, to ensure that besides preventing hoarding, all other rules and regulations were followed at these points.

He said apart from enforcements, the ministry also collaborated with the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living to ensure a stable supply of rice.

A total of 1031 inspections were carried out as the limit to buying rice not more than 100kg was put in place to prevent shortage in the markets.

He also reasoned that the shortages were caused by panic buying as the price of imported rice went up and many opted to buy local white rice.

He said the government was also looking at increasing rice production by 20,000 metric tonnes for the peninsular and this will help resolve any shortages in a month or two.

Other measures the government has taken including engaging FAMA and LPP to sell rice directly to consumers through Agro Madani, he said, adding that this will be more of a service and no profits will be made.

He also gave assurance that the country’s stockpile of rice of 900,000 metric tons was sufficient for four to five months and there was no need to release them for now.

On India’s move to curtail its rice export, he said his ministry will be negotiating with India on the matter.

BERNAS will be also negotiating with other rice producers in the region, he said, adding that Malaysia was really looking at increasing its own production through smart, mass scale production.

The aim is to reach at least 80 percent self sufficiency by 2030, he added.