KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — The supply of local white rice is expected to increase by 450,000 tonnes by the end of the year, says Paddy and Rice Regulation director-general Datuk Azman Mahmood.
He said the target was set taking into account the harvest season in Kedah which will increase the production of local white rice.
Azman said the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (KPKM) had also introduced several initiatives to increase local rice production, including large-scale paddy fields, as well as four intervention measures to regulate the supply of paddy and rice in the country.
Among the measures, he said, was to negotiate with 157 commercial factories to hand over 20 per cent of their rice production to the government for distribution.
“Our distribution method is to use large wholesalers that we match with hypermarkets, and we have held engagement sessions with hypermarkets to determine at what price they can sell (the rice).
“Besides hypermarkets, we have appointed 103 wholesalers to use their own branding and distribute (the rice) in nearby areas such as in rural areas and so on,” he said when coming on as a guest on the programme ‘Reaksi’ broadcast on Bernama Radio today.
Azman said KPKM also used its agency platforms such as the Farmers Orgnanisation Authority (LPP) which has 1,400 branches and the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) with approximately 35 branches nationwide to distribute the local white rice to the people.
“We have also held engagement sessions with traders’ associations, because most of them wholesale local rice due to its lower cost.
“So we gave them (retailers) the option of maybe using imported white rice by offering them a reasonable price for the imported white rice, so that they don’t compete with the people to purchase local white rice, and most of them have agreed,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said the ministry had also launched the Local White Rice Operation (OP PBT) to control the rice supply at the retail and wholesale levels, in addition to working with the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living (KPDNHEP) over the matter.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu yesterday said the country’s rice supply was sufficient to cover domestic needs for the next four to five months and there was no urgent need to use the buffer stock. — Bernama