Separate local and imported rice mills to prevent misappropriation - Cake

05 Sep 2023 05:05pm
Mohamad Yusrizal showing imported white rice available at a supermarket during a survey today.
Mohamad Yusrizal showing imported white rice available at a supermarket during a survey today.

ALOR SETAR - The Kedah Consumers Association (Cake) has proposed that the government segregate local and imported rice milling operations to prevent misappropriation.

Its president Mohamad Yusrizal Yusoff expressed concern that having both products packed in the same location creates an opportunity for unscrupulous parties to exploit the situation, making enforcement challenging.

"We are worried that manufacturers or wholesalers might engage in 'changing clothes' (altering packaging) or blending imported white rice with local rice for sale to consumers.

"This constitutes fraud, and we urge swift enforcement action because, based on our recent observations, local rice is scarce in the market," he disclosed following a supermarket's rice supply inspection.

According to Yusrizal, such a rice shortage should not occur, given that local rice production accounts for approximately 70 per cent of the national supply, with imported rice comprising the remaining 30 per cent.

He questioned the whereabouts of the local rice, given that there has been no reported decline in farmers' rice production.

"We don't want to make unfounded accusations, but we have observed instances of misappropriation.

"Some parties may capitalise on rising rice prices by altering packaging to increase profits," he stressed.

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Yusrizal also urged the government to dismantle the rice monopoly held by the National Rice Company (Bernas) to encourage competition.

"The monopoly on rice production by Bernas has hindered competition in the national rice supply.

"They are the largest supplier of rice, and they recently announced a 36 per cent increase in the price of imported white rice, raising concerns among consumers.

"This price hike may result in significant increases in restaurant food prices," he cautioned.

Last Saturday, Bernas announced a 36 per cent price increase for imported white rice, from RM2,350 to RM3,200 per metric tonne, effective the preceding Friday.

This new price represents an RM850 per metric tonne increase, equivalent to an 85-cent per kilogramme increase, and aligns with current global staple food prices.