KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — The price of imported white rice is going to get more expensive in the months ahead for Malaysia, according to the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry.
Its Agricultural Industry Development Division secretary Datuk Azman Mahmood told The Star that white rice is currently trading at about US$700 (RM3,272) a metric tonne worldwide, but has not surpassed the 2008 price of US$1,000 (RM4,677) a tonne during a global rice crisis.
“It is a global issue that we cannot control,” he was quoted as saying in the news report published today.
Prices of imported white rice now costs RM3,200 a tonne from RM2,350 a tonne, up by 36 per cent, as announced by Malaysia’s sole licensed importer Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) on September 1.
Azman said Malaysia is currently unaffected by the decision by India — the world’s biggest rice exporter — to stop selling its rice to others except for basmati and parboiled rice since July 20.
While Malaysia grows rice, it is not sufficient to meet domestic demand.
The government is targeting 75 per cent rice self-sufficiency by 2025 under the five-year 11th Malaysia Plan, and 80 per cent self-sufficiency under the National Agrofood Policy 2021-2030.
Azman said that Malaysia should strive for 100 per cent rice self-sufficiency to avoid being impacted by any global market disruptions.
“We can still import rice from Pakistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, but the best approach is to make our rice production self-sufficient.
“Our ultimate goal is to achieve 100 per cent self-sufficiency,” he was quoted as saying.
He added that there is currently a six-month trading stock of imported white rice.
Azman said Malaysia only needs to increase local rice production by six metric tonnes to meet domestic demand if the SMART SBB Mini Sekinchan Mada-Bernas paddy farming plan in Kedah and Kelantan is successful.
He is hoping the plan can be rolled out nationwide.
Azman was also asked about the rice wholesalers’ request for the government to promote fair competition and explore opportunities for other companies to participate in rice imports.
He told The Star that Bernas holds the concession for rice imports until January 2031, and that only the prime minister can decide whether or not the monopoly will remain or to open up the licence.