KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — The local white rice shortage is expected to be overcome by the end of the year following steps taken by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security’s (KPKM) Paddy and Rice Regulatory Division, ministry director-general Datuk Azman Mahmood reportedly said.
He told Harian Metro that a meeting had been held between restaurant operators, small vendors and related parties at Putrajaya on Friday to discuss immediate initiatives to ensure that the supply of rice in the market is not disrupted.
Among the steps taken are ensuring an increased supply in hypermarkets as well as traders being given discounts to buy imported rice for business purposes, he reportedly said.
He reportedly said that the meeting agreed to grant 103 wholesale licences to small wholesalers and through this, food entrepreneurs under the food business association can enjoy the purchase price of imported white rice at the wholesale price of RM160 for 50kg, which is the warehouse door price.
The association can also produce its own brand if it successfully gets a wholesale licence, which will provide benefits to its businesses, he reportedly added.
“We also agreed that basmati is a special rice and is not subject to the wholesale price of imported white rice. It is subject to the floating price determined by the current market.
“In terms of intervention steps, we also determined supplies at 41 Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) outlets as well as 1,400 of the Farmers’ Organisation Authority’s (LPP) outlets nationwide.
“It must be understood that there is no issue regarding supply and that we are working to overcome this problem for everyone’s benefit,” he was quoted as saying.
His side hopes that the public will be able to local rice supplies at the available outlets with intervention measures through cooperation between agencies, he reportedly said.
Earlier this month, Azman reportedly said that the price of imported white rice is 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.