KUALA LUMPUR: The Government is ready to import more rice if local grain production drops as a result of the persisting El Nino phenomenon.
Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Tajuddin Abdul Rahman said Malaysia imported 30% of rice for the nation’s consumption while the other 70% came from local growers.
“If production falls, we will increase the import to offset the drop in local supply. Of course, that will be a temporary measure,” he said.
Tajuddin said while the hot weather would definitely affect padi production.
Mardi, in a statement, said a 2°C rise in temperature could lead to a 13% reduction in padi yield while drought – or a 15% decrease in seasonal rainfall - could lead to drop in yield up to 80%. Any rice in temperature above 34°C was also certain to affect yield.
Extreme heat could also cause damage to the rice yield and grain quality besides bringing disease, it said.
Tajudin said the Government was flexible in its import policy despite aiming to achieve full self-sufficiency by 2020.
“We are flexible in our policies because we have to think of food security. We don’t want to see people having problems because rice is our staple food.
“If we have to import, then we will import. The basic policy is that we want to protect our local producers,” he added.