Making Madani rice a reality

PUTRAJAYA: Several engagement sessions on the Madani white rice initiative will be held with its outcome to be decided at the next National Action Council on Cost of Living (Naccol) meeting, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Prime Minister said the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry had been tasked to hold the sessions before the meeting, which is expected to be held in a month’s time.

The directive came following a special Naccol meeting yesterday, chaired by Anwar, who was given a detailed explanation on the issue.

The Prime Minister said stakeholders, representing industries, padi farmers and rice millers, had also voiced their views and presented proposals during the meeting to ensure its availability at a reasonable price for the people.

“After taking into consideration all views and suggestions, we have decided that the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry are to lead and coordinate a more detailed engagement session as soon as possible.

“It must take into account the purchasing price of padi, supply factor, price of imported rice, sustainability of local rice, as well as effects on consumers.

“I have also directed for the outcome of the engagement to be presented and decided at the Naccol meeting on March 20 before we bring the matter for the Cabinet’s consideration,” he said in a statement yesterday.

The initiative came under fire from stakeholders and the public after Naccol task force (food cluster) chairman Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Faisal said all white rice would be put under one category of Madani white rice, doing away with the imported white rice category from March 1.

The Prime Minister had previously said the initiative was meant to cut out manipulation by cartels in the rice production industry.

Anwar said government intervention was critical and a decision must be made soon to ensure the supply and price of rice remains stable in the market.

He said this was crucial following an increase in prices of imported white rice in the global market due to export ban from producing countries.

He added that despite the supply and price of local white rice in the domestic market being under control, complaints were still received on its limited supply.

At the meeting, Anwar also touched on the importance of strengthening enforcement to ensure rice remains in the market and that no wholesalers or millers make excessive profits.

“Strict enforcement is needed so that irresponsible parties would not mix local and imported white rice, only to sell them at a higher price.

“I have also directed for more sales programmes such as Rahmah Sales and Agro Sales so that the people can buy their daily essentials, including rice, at a lower price,” he said.

The Prime Minister said the government would continue to focus on the cost of living that is still affecting the people, although the inflation rate has eased to 1.5% as of January this year.

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