KOTA KINABALU: A consumer group has urged the public to stop speculating on the availability of local rice and to avoid panic buying.
Sabah West Coast Wise Consumers Association president David Chan said speculations could cause panic buying that could trigger severe shortages.
“Such speculations only lead to consumers rushing to buy rice to stock up at home.
“This will cause the demand for rice to be even higher.
“Rice is important for everyone but we all must ensure that we do not panic buy,” he added.
Chan was commenting on the shortage of local rice in supermarkets and grocery stores in the state.
Chan also called on the authorities to step up monitoring the issue of rice shortages under the Food Security Act, especially during the current drop in padi yield due to global warming and climate change.
“We urge the government to invest in local rice cultivation to increase local rice production in Malaysia,” he said.
Although the increase in the price of rice only involved imported white rice, he said that the average consumer was feeling the burden of the increased cost.
“Whatever the increase in the price of goods, it still affects the increase in the price of other goods.
“Rice is our main food, and the price increase between RM1 and RM4 is burdensome for the people.
“Of course, with the increase in the price of rice, the 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 Beras Rahmah sales.
“It would help in easing the people’s financial burden,” he said, adding that the focus should remain on solving local rice shortages.
In early September, Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) adjusted the price of imported white rice nationwide from RM2,350 a tonne to RM3,200 a tonne in line with current global market prices.
This caused the price of imported white rice to increase from RM33 to RM39 compared with local white rice sold at a controlled price of about RM2.60 per kg to RM26 per 10kg bag.