KOTA KINABALU: A consumer group has urged the public to stop speculating on local rice availability as it could aggravate supply issues.
Sabah West Coast Wise Consumers Association president David Chan said such conjecture could lead people to panic buy, triggering sudden shortages.
"It only leads to consumers rushing to buy rice to keep stock at home.
"This will cause the demand for rice to be even higher," he said in a statement on Monday (Sept 25).
"We are fully aware that rice is important for everyone but we must ensure that we do not panic buy."
Commenting on recent shortages of local white rice in parts of the state, he urged the authorities to step up monitoring, especially during the current drop in crop yield blamed on global warming and climate change.
"We urge the government to invest in local rice cultivation to increase production," he added.
Although the increase in the price of rice only involved imported white rice, he said the average consumer was feeling the burden of the increased cost.
"(When there is an) increase in the price of goods, it affects... the price of other goods. Rice is our main food and the price increase of between RM1 and RM4 is burdensome for the people.
"Of course with the increase, a family's cost of living also increases," he added.
He said the association welcomed the government's short-term initiative of allocating RM150mil for the Rahmah sale of rice programme.
"It would help ease the people's financial burden," he said, adding that the focus should remain on solving the local rice shortage.