Govt ready to examine, restructure existing rice system, says Mohamad Sabu

KUALA LUMPUR: The government is ready to examine the restructuring of the existing rice system to avoid the occurrence of irregularities or cartel syndicates in the country's paddy and rice industry.

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu said the ministry seriously views the allegations of the existence of rice cartels or the occurrence of 'games' by certain parties in the sector.

"We view this (rice issue) seriously and will do whatever we can, including the restructuring of the rice and paddy system, whether it needs to be reviewed...the government will reassess from the point of view of the structure of the rice organisation in Malaysia," he said.

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He said this in a press conference during a working visit to a freshwater fish pond at the ARC Berkat Agrofood Sdn Bhd in Rawang on Sunday (Jan 21).

Previously, the Bumiputera Rice Association of Malaysia (Barim) claimed that there was a certain 'game' within the Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas), in addition to claiming that cartels were most likely in existence.

Barim president Ismail Awang reportedly said association members did not receive local rice supplies from Bernas because they said there were no stocks. However, most of the supermarkets received their supplies.

ALSO READ: There is no cartel controlling price of rice, padi seeds, says Food Security Ministry

Mohamad said several industry-related issues are still being discussed between the Malaysian Competition Commission (MyCC) and Paddy and Rice Regulatory Authority.

"Right now, these (issues) are still in the discussion stage, and if there are any irregularities, action will be taken... But we will wait for the investigation results," he said.

Meanwhile, concerning the aquaculture industry, Mohamad said the ministry has set the industry's production target at 500,000 tonnes this year.

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He also said this can be achieved by empowering revenue resources, which are 60% in aquaculture and 40% in capture fishery.

At the same time, Mohamad added that the campaign to increase people's interest in freshwater fish products must be intensified to increase the demand for these products further. – Bernama

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Paddy , Rice , Mohamad Sabu , Restructuring , Cartels


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