Agriculture minister rubbishes report claiming Malaysia may be running low on rice

Chan Wai Kit
Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee has denied a report claiming that Malaysia only has enough rice to last two-and-a-half months. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee has denied a report claiming that Malaysia only has enough rice to last two-and-a-half months.

In a statement issued today, the agriculture and food industry minister said that the country’s current rice stocks were “stable, controlled and consistent”.

“The ministry denies the media report that claimed the country’s rice stocks can only last two-and-a-half months,” said Kiandee.

“The current stock of local rice at factories, wholesalers and retailers is as high as 523,000 metric tonnes.

“This does not take into account existing stocks of locally produced rice and imported rice in the country.

Kiandee then went on to say that rice imports have not been interrupted by the movement control order (MCO) before stressing that this category only makes up 30 per cent of Malaysia’s entire needs.

“At the moment, rice imports have not been affected and continue as usual. Apart from Vietnam, rice is imported from other producer countries like Thailand, Pakistan, Myanmar, India and Cambodia.

“Bernas has also been directed by the government to guarantee and increase rice imports to the country,” he added in reference to Syarikat Padiberas Nasional Bhd, which is involved in the procurement and processing of paddy, and the importation, warehousing, distribution and marketing of rice in Malaysia, among other matters.

Kiandee ended by reassuring Malaysians not to worry about the availability of rice in the country, saying that the ministry will ensure that the supply is enough to meet the country’s monthly needs of 200,000 metric tonnes.

Yesterday, Reuters quoted the Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry as saying Malaysia only has enough rice to last two-and-a-half months, after Vietnam suspended exports to feed its own people amid the Covid-19 epidemic.

Vietnam, the third largest rice exporter, on Wednesday said it would not sign any new rice export contracts until March 28 to ensure sufficient domestic supplies, raising concerns about global food security.

In Malaysia, various ministers have sought to reassure Malaysians that food suppliers have enough essential goods to last the duration of the MCO, in a bid to bring an end to the panic buying that has been seen across the country since its implementation.

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