Local rice shortage linked to weather and diseases

KUALA LUMPUR: Local padi harvests dropped in the last planting season between April and August due to uncertain weather and diseases, says a government agency that oversees rice farmers.

This then aggravated the problem of rice supply when consumers began switching to the local variety, whose prices are controlled, when the cost of imported rice shot up, said the Farmers’ Organisation Authority (LPP).

LPP deputy director of development Amir Mat Amin said last season, rice harvests dropped to four tonnes per hectare from the average of seven tonnes last season.

“There are also farmers whose harvests were affected by floods,” said Amir Mat.

Retailers and traders in Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Johor, Perlis, Kedah, Terengganu and Sarawak met by Bernama attested to this supply crunch.

In SELANGOR, a rice company owner who only wanted to be known as Ah Chong said the current shortage of local white rice was also because the harvest season in the state only begins in mid-October, which meant that extra supplies would only reach retailers in early November.

Checks at several supermarkets and grocery stores around Sungai Buloh and Shah Alam found depleted supplies of local white rice on their shelves.

In MELAKA, housewife Kamaria Ismail, 38, said she had to switch to imported rice in the past three weeks after finding it difficult to get local rice.

In KEDAH, Kedah Domestic Trade and Cost of Living director Affendi Rajini Kanth said inspections at 30 premises found that only two stores had the local variety.

“And that too, in very low quantities. It’s true that only imported rice is currently available.”

In PERAK, Bercham Econsave manager GV Rakesh said the shortage of local white rice in his Ipoh store began in June.

However, in SARAWAK, several supermarkets in Kuching still had local rice, but some were selling the 10kg bags for RM40.

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