GEORGE TOWN: Penang became the first state to receive 30,000kg of rice through the local white rice distribution intervention programme in an effort to increase the supply of rice in the state.
State agrotechnology and food security and cooperatives development committee chairman Fahmi Zainol said 3,000 10kg sacks of rice were marketed through the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) sales centres statewide from Tuesday (Sept 19).
“Penang became the first state to receive rice through the initiative and it will be sold and distributed through Fama outlets in the state at a price set by the government.
“Through this programme, local white rice supply will be sent to the state in stages to meet market needs and overcome the supply of rice to ensure people in the state can obtain cheaper rice instead of the more expensive imported rice.
“However, through this programme, every individual can only purchase a maximum of two sacks, which is 20kg of local white rice and retailers 10 sacks (100kg),” he told BK here on Tuesday (Sept 19).
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu previously said that the supply of local white rice nationwide is expected to recover within a month following immediate intervention steps being carried out by the government.
In addition, Fahmi said that based on his survey of hypermarkets, supermarkets and grocery stores in the past week, he found that there was no supply of local white rice in the market and only imported rice was available.
“I hope that this local white rice distribution intervention programme will at least help residents in this state obtain rice supply and I also ask the public not to panic buy as this will only prolong the problem,” he said.
He said Penang will apply to the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry for the state government to be given autonomy to control its own rice production to ensure ample supply in the state always.
“For the long term, the state government seeks to obtain paddy seed production quota to create a seed bank in the state. This way, it will indirectly prevent monopoly and ensure paddy seeds can be distributed directly to farmers,” he said.
He said there are currently 5,262 padi farmers in Penang cultivating 12,105ha of land, adding that last year rice production was 122,321 tonnes and the harvesting process is still going on this year. – BK