JOHOR BARU: Putrajaya wants to meet with the Indian government over its ban on the export of non-basmati white rice, says Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu (pic).
The Agriculture and Food Security Minister said his ministry is reaching out to its Indian counterpart to obtain a suitable date for a government-to-government meeting.
“When they planned on ceasing the export of white rice, it led to a price increase of the item in Malaysia.
“They will still export basmati rice but this type of rice is expensive.
“Hopefully, we will hear from them soon so that a meeting with their ministers can take place to find the best solution to ensure that our rice stockpile is sufficient.
“We want to ask them to continue exporting white rice to Malaysia - that is our hope,” he told reporters after attending an appreciation dinner at a hotel here on Sunday (Sept 24) for those involved in the recent Pulai and Simpang Jeram by-elections.
Mohamad added that the current supply of rice in the country was adequate but shortages occurred in certain areas when consumers purchased white rice in large quantities out of panic.
He said the demand for local white rice had always been there previously, for uses such as the production of meehoon or rice vermicelli.
“When the price of imported rice shot up, the demand for local white rice increased greatly too, causing shortage of supply in several places but we are taking steps to tackle the matter,” said the Kota Raja MP.
He added that this includes ensuring that the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada) started harvesting more padi.
He continued urging consumers to be considerate to others by only purchasing rice in their usual quantities, also advising people to avoid hoarding the item as rice bugs would feed on the rice when stored for too long.
Asked whether Malaysia could depend on other source countries for rice supply besides India, Mohamad said Pakistan, Vietnam and Thailand were alternative options but they were also facing rice issues of their own.
“The supply of rice is a global issue. While we are also affected, some other countries have it even worse compared to us,” he added.
In July, India surprised buyers by imposing a ban on exports of widely consumed non-basmati white rice, following a ban on broken rice exports last year.