IN a recent debate on the mid-term review of the 12th Malaysia Plan, former Perikatan Nasional (PN) minister Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee has called on the government to address concerns surrounding the supply of locally produced rice, urging officials to abandon any “denial” stance regarding the issue.
The Beluran MP pointed to public grievances regarding the scarcity of local rice available at the controlled subsidised price of RM2.60 per kg, with imported rice being sold in the range of RM3.60 to RM3.90 per kg. He emphasised the importance of providing consumers with the option to purchase locally grown rice.
“Nowadays, consumers are unable to buy local rice at RM2.60 per kg. Imported rice is sold in the range of RM3.60 and RM3.90 per kg. We should have the option to buy local rice.
“That is why I said the ministry must investigate why we are unable to buy local rice in the market.”
Ronald asserted that the government must no longer be in denial syndrome but investigate this matter so Malaysians can continue to buy local rice at RM2.60 per kg.
Meanwhile, Jelebu MP Jalaluddin Alias urged the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry led by Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu to consider reviewing Malaysia’s rice export policies until the domestic supply stabilises.
He attributed the domestic shortage to increased demands resulting from price hikes in imported rice, while Malaysia continued to export a portion of its rice production.
“The ministry must manage this matter so that rice export follows a guideline where domestic demands must be met first. I would like to suggest that we reduce our rice exports until the domestic supply is stable.”
Moreover, Hulu Terengganu MP Rosol Wahid also weighed in on the issue, drawing a historical parallel by mentioning the times during the Japanese occupation of Malaya when rice was in short supply.
Rosol questioned whether the country wanted to return to a situation where people had to resort to alternative staples like ubi kayu (cassava).
Earlier on Sept 4, the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry division secretary in charge of paddy industry development Datuk Azman Mahmood reportedly stated that the government has taken intervention measures to boost local rice supply.
He revealed that the government had instructed rice millers in the northern region to increase production by 20%, channelling the additional output through Padibernas Nasional Bhd (Bernas), with a targeted increase of 423,000 metric tonnes of rice per year, according to Bernama. – Sept 14, 2023