A recent survey by the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) in Penang Island found that local rice is experiencing a serious shortage in the market. Shelves in supermarkets were also found to be empty.
There are claims that some traders are stockpiling local rice and selling it at a higher price, up to RM30 per 10kg, to foreigners while the price set by the government is only RM26.
Such a situation shows Malaysia’s vulnerability to food insecurity that has been festering for decades in a quest for ‘development’. In the 1970s, domestic production met 75% of rice demand in the country. However, in recent years it can only produce between 60-65% of local rice demand.
We believe if the government takes necessary action, any attempt to manipulate the market by vested interests will not be successful. If monitoring by the authorities is lax, irresponsible elements will exploit the situation and manipulate the market to make more profit.
Therefore, the authorities must be vigilant and crack down on those manipulating the market for profit.
It was reported that there was about a 30% decrease in the amount of local rice purchased per season at factories over the past 10 years while imported rice is on the increase. This trend is worrying as it shows we are developing a growing dependence on imported rice.
CAP has urged the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security to resolve the shortage of local rice immediately.
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Mohideen Abdul Kader is president of Consumers Association of Penang (CAP)