ALOR SETAR, June 21 — The country’s imported rice supply has not been affected despite the global Covid-19 pandemic, said Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee.
He said there have been no concerns so far from the nation’s sole rice importer, Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas) on the matter, and gave his assurance that imported rice supply and domestic production are capable of meeting local needs.
“We have no issues on blockages, even though it was reported that some countries have not been allowing exports, but we have no problem importing rice for our usage.
“We are still producing rice, about 70 per cent, and import the other 30 per cent for our needs. There have been no issues reported by our sole importer to bring in rice from exporting countries,” he told reporters after visiting the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada) here today.
He was asked whether Malaysia was facing any problems in importing rice from other countries following the Covid-19 pandemic.
Elaborating on the impact of the movement control order (MCO) on domestic rice production, Kiandee said paddy planting and harvesting activities are being carried out smoothly as the industry was categorised as essential and was allowed to operate by the government.
“I can say that there is no impact as we have been producing rice. During the MCO, it was harvesting season in Selangor and the process went smoothly without any interruptions.
“And currently, it is planting season in Kedah. So, overall, the MCO brings no impact to our rice production,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kiandee said the government has allocated RM11.2 million under the Economic Stimulus Package (PRE 1) and another RM5.4 million under the Prihatin Economic Stimulus Package (PRE Prihatin) to Mada to assist the agency post-Covid-19.
He said the allocation under PRE 1 was focused on increasing farmers’ income and upgrading irrigation infrastructure.
“While under PRE Prihatin, an allocation of RM200,000 was distributed to each District Farmers’ Organisation to develop short-term agrofood projects, benefitting 1,810 Mada farmers,” he said. — Bernama