Government urged to present a plan to address local rice supply issue - Muhyiddin

28 Sep 2023 06:27pm
Muhyiddin Yassin - Photo by Bernama
Muhyiddin Yassin - Photo by Bernama

SHAH ALAM - The government is urged to present a comprehensive plan to address the issue of local rice supply and ensure that the people always have food on their tables.

Former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said this is because domestic rice production has declined from 1.68 million metric tonnes in 2021 to 1.57 million metric tonnes last year.

He believes this could be the beginning of a larger crisis in the future because global climate change has led to droughts and floods in many countries, affecting food production, including rice.

"In a situation where our country still depends on high food imports, a shortage of food production in climate-affected countries will affect food supply in our country," he said in a statement today.

He also called for stricter and more comprehensive enforcement measures to ensure that no one manipulates the local rice supply chain, increase the country's rice stock reserves, and boost domestic food production.

"Ad-hoc measures taken at this time are not sufficient to ensure that food supplies are always adequate and affordable for the people," he explained.

Muhyiddin, who was also the Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman, also expressed concern about the situation where people have to queue for a long time to buy rice at locations managed by the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA).

"This situation has never happened in our country before.

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This development was very concerning to us, especially since rice is the staple food of the people, Muhyiddin said.

"According to the Supply and Usage of Selected Agricultural Commodities Report Account, 2018-2022, issued by the Statistics Department, Malaysia needs 2.68 million metric tonnes of rice annually.

"Of this amount, 1.11 million metric tonnes are imported rice," he said.

He said the country depends on about 40 per cent of rice imports from rice-producing countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, and India.

"The problem of rice supply becomes more acute when rice-producing countries impose export restrictions.

"As is happening now, India has restricted the export of white rice because it is facing a rice supply crisis.

"This exposes Malaysia to the risk of rice supply shortages and rice price instability due to either a shortage of global rice supply or fluctuating foreign exchange rates," said Muhyiddin.