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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu said today that the shortage of rice in the domestic market is expected to be restored within a month.
The minister known as Mat Sabu said this was achievable by implementing a special programme for local white rice that is aimed at increasing the production locally.
“The special programme was implemented in two phases, the first on September 8 and the second on September 15. Through the implementation of the special programme, the shortage of rice in the domestic market is expected to be restored within a month,” Mohamad told the Parliament during his winding-up speech on the 12th Malaysia Plan mid-term review debate here.
“At the same time, now at Mada, padi is being harvested and has surpassed 20 per cent, and there will be more local rice available in a month or two,” he said, referring to the Muda Agricultural Development Authority.
In his speech, Mohamad also said it the shortage of local rice occurred when there was panic buying among consumers and businesses.
He said this started when the price of imported rice spiked.
“As I’ve said earlier, there is panic buying among consumers and businesses, where previously those who bought imported rice moved to local rice hence making it seem like there is a shortage of local rice.
“With the steps we have taken, god-willing it will restore higher availability of local rice in the market,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mohamad said that through the ministry’s monitoring, the current situation has not come to an emergency level that would require tapping from the rice stockpile.
“We have rice stockpile to last for four to five months, but there is no urgent need amounting to an emergency to utilise the 250 tonnes metric stockpile that we have for four to five months domestic need,” he said.
It was reported that the steps taken by the ministry to ensure increased supply in the market as well as traders being given discounts to buy imported rice for business purposes.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security’s Paddy and Rice Regulatory Division reportedly said that the price of imported white rice was going to get more expensive in the months ahead for Malaysia.
Malaysia’s sole licensed importer Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) announced on September 1 that imported white rice now costs RM3,200 a tonne from RM2,350 a tonne, up by 36 per cent.