KOTA KINABALU: The shortage of local rice supply in Sabah is due to low production, says state Padi and Rice Regulatory Board director Ab Alim Multazam.
He said local production only amounted to 23% of the self-sufficiency level (SSL) in the state.
Ab Alim said that based on data under the Padi Price Subsidy Scheme (SSHP) in Sabah, some 30,570 metric tonnes of local rice were produced in 2022. However, for the first eight months of this year, only 18,755 metric tonnes were processed in 20 factories.
He said that current monthly production was only about 1,401 metric tonnes a month against an estimated need for 23,000 metric tonnes a month for a population of 3.4 million people.
"It is not enough," he said in explaining the reasons for a lack of local rice in the market.
The shortage of local rice supply is not a new phenomenon as previously consumers preferred to buy imported rice as it was comparatively cheaper.
However, with the recent increase in prices of imported white rice, there is a growing demand for local rice.
Ab Alim said that low local rice production and high operating cost also contributed to the high local rice prices.
“Our agency is responsible for monitoring the price, but we do not control it.
“If it is controlled, all the factories will not buy local rice and this will lead to another problem, especially for rice operators in the state,” he added.
The government has identified 50,000ha of land in Sabah and Sarawak for padi planting under the Rural and Regional Development Ministry.
The Agriculture and Food Security Ministry also has plans for a large-scale rice padi planting programme in Sabah in an effort to meet local rice supplies in the state.