PORT DICKSON, Sept 26 — The Agriculture and Food Security Ministry (KPKM) has asked state governments to consider developing rice planting areas to increase rice production in the country.
Its minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu said the move, which also requires the cooperation of various ministries including KPKM, the Finance Ministry and the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry, can also guarantee the country’s food security in the future.
He said there were several states that have the potential for rice farming, namely Sabah and Sarawak, in addition to abandoned rice growing areas in Negeri Sembilan.
“This rice issue is not an individual responsibility, but the whole country. Food security needs the involvement of everyone including the Federal Government, the state government, the private sector and entrepreneurs. It is a domestic and also a global problem, and everyone has to focus on reducing this burden.
“The state government owns land, and they must work together regardless of whether they are the opposition or the government. There is no (issue) of the opposition not needing to eat, or the government does not need to eat because all these are necessary.
“At the Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada), we assist in their irrigation system so that we can grow rice for five seasons in two years. But we cannot launch it this year, next year, yes. It will take at least three, four years from now,” he told reporters after officiating at the 2023 Madani Agro Marketing Entrepreneurs Gathering and Declaration Convention here today.
On the local white rice (BPT) distribution intervention programme, he said BPT stock will be increased in each state to 1,100 tonnes a month via 5,000 Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) outlets, especially in rural and suburban areas.
Therefore, he once again advised the public not to make panic purchases as BPT supply was still sufficient and emergency stocks have yet to be used, while also adding that stock will also be sent to supermarkets so that they are not only concentrated at Fama and Farmers’ Organisation Authority outlets.
Mohamad also will hold a government-to-government meeting with the Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia, among others, to discuss how to stabilise rice supply in the country at the KPKM office tomorrow.
In a separate development, he said the ministry always cooperates with agencies including Fama and also the private sector in guaranteeing food supply during the monsoon season, besides advising farmers not to plant crops to be harvested at that time.
“We must abide by the government’s instructions, and in addition, we should not keep too much food stock as in Malaysia the floods do not last too long and we are able to overcome issues.”
Meanwhile, Mohamad said the Madani Agro sales, up to Sept 20, recorded a sales value of RM43.5 million in 2,282 locations nationwide, involving 34,123 entrepreneurs with a savings value of RM13.05 million for 4.56 million households.
He said the Madani Agro Sales will be expanded to include fresh produce and controlled items, including at government complexes or offices, KPKM agency retail outlets, People’s Housing Programme (PPR) projects, residential areas, urban poor areas and the suburbs.