PADIBERAS Nasional Bhd (Bernas), through its subsidiary Beras Corp Sdn Bhd and a member of its group Sazarice Sdn Bhd, has strengthen its position as a leader in the country's rice trading business with the start of a rice processing and packaging operations in Kota Kinabalu.
The high-tech facility, costing RM10mil, is capable of processing 200 tonnes of rice per day which could accommodate any increase in rice production in Sabah.
It also has a warehouse that can store up to 5,000 tonnes of rice at one time.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman, in officiating the facility yesterday, said it indicated Bernas' proactive attitude in catering for the market demand and consumer taste.
The facility is opened at the right time and is in line with the Sabah state governments intention to raise food production domestically.
Sabah imports RM1.3bil worth of food products which accounted for 11.23% of its imports in 2002, he said.
Musa expressed hope that Bernas would help spur rice production in the country, which only produced 92,568 tonnes a year or only 34% of the local demand while 189,900 tonnes had to be imported.
He said the government was now working on expanding padi production and increasing harvesting up to 10 tonnes per ha from the current average of four tonnes.
Bernas chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Noor Abdul Rahim said the facility could carry out various functions, including auto packer and colour sorter.
He said it was important for Bernas to strengthen its position in the rice and padi industry in the country.
This is to ensure that the industry will be resilient enough and can face the challenges of regional and international free market agenda, he said. Bernama