Panic buying, switch to local rice cause rice supply disruption - Mat Sabu

02 Oct 2023 01:32pm
Mohamad during a speech in the Sembang Santai Unity Programme at Kampung Hayat, Bentong yesterday.
Mohamad during a speech in the Sembang Santai Unity Programme at Kampung Hayat, Bentong yesterday.

BENTONG - Panic buying of local white rice in excess of monthly needs and consumers switching from imported to local rice due to price hikes, are causing a disruption in the supply of staple food in the market, said Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu.

He said this was exacerbated by a viral video that claimed that the rice supply would run out next month, which led to many people raiding supermarkets.

"People in Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam used to not care about local rice.

"They would eat imported rice because it was only RM26 per sack, while imported rice was RM32 or RM34 per sack, which was not much of a difference, and they said imported rice was good.

"However, when the price of imported rice skyrocketed to RM37 or RM40 per sack, they switched to local rice.

"When the video claiming that there would be no rice next month went viral, people scrambled to buy rice.

"Normally, a person would buy one sack of rice, but now they are buying three sacks.

"This means that they are taking two sacks of rice from another person. Those who would buy two sacks per month are now buying four sacks," he said in a Sembang Santai Unity Programme at Kampung Hayat here yesterday.

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Mohamad advised the public not to panic buy local white rice and to purchase it according to their needs instead of stockpiling.

He admitted that there was some turmoil in the market following India's decision to stop exporting rice, but this had been mitigated by the government's long-term and short-term plans.

"We are discussing with the Prime Minister today. If he agrees, we will ask government agencies such as hospitals, army camps, and police to purchase imported rice.

"This will free up more local rice supply in the market. If that does not work, I will find an alternative. This is a short-term plan," he said.

Mohamad said the Young Farmers Advancement Authority (Mada) was now working towards harvesting rice for five seasons over two years, but this would take several years.

He said rice cultivation would be expanded in Terengganu, Pahang, Sabah, and Sarawak.