ALOR STAR: 'Panic buying' is not the cause of local white rice supply depletion.
In refuting the claim by Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu, the Consumers Association of Kedah (Cake) said that the consumer body has not observed any indications of panic buying for local rice by the population.
Cake president Yusrizal Yusoff said previously, the local white rice supply was in good condition when there were no increases in the price of imported white rice.
"However, when the increase in the price of imported rice was announced, local white rice suddenly disappeared from the market, leaving only imported rice.
"We have inquired with retailers who experienced shortages and even Mydin's management said there are shortages, this begs the question of where the product has gone," he told reporters after conducting price and supply checks of grocery items at Pasar Besar Alor Star here today.
Yusrizal stressed that it is illogical that local white rice supplies have dried out as the country only imports 30 per cent of rice to satisfy demand.
Hence, he called on the government to conduct proper review of local white rice production from all levels of production to identify the true source of the issue.
"We need complete data from padi farmers to manufacturers. From manufacturers to wholesalers to retailers, how many tons are supplied? Only then can we identify where the rice is disappearing," he added.
During yesterday's 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) Mid-term review, an online news portal reported that Mohamad cited "panic buying" due to the rising price of imported rice as among the reasons why the local white rice supply dried up.
Mohamad said when there was panic buying due to the increase in the price of imported white rice, food traders switched to local rice, leading to a shortage of the commodity.
To help alleviate the issue of local white rice shortages in the country, he said negotiations will be made with the Indian government to find a suitable solution over the rice export restrictions made by India.
Meanwhile, Yusrizal stressed that an immediate and effective short-term solution has to be implemented to address the issue.
"Local rice being sold by government agencies like Fama, and it's only sold on a weekly or biweekly basis in specific locations.
"But the people want local rice to be readily accessible in stores and markets, let's not make it difficult for them," he added.