KUALA LUMPUR: Uncertain weather and crop diseases throughout the last harvest season from April to August have caused slight “interruptions” to the supply of local white rice in the market.
Farmers’ Organisation Authority deputy director (development) Amir Mat Amin said the padi yield per harvest usually reached an average of seven metric tonnes per hectare, but this dipped to only four tonnes during the last harvest season.
“There are also farmers whose yield has been affected by floods. A shift in consumption has also contributed to this shortage,” Amir told Bernama.
The lack of local white rice became more apparent after the increase in the price of imported rice, which forced some consumers to switch to the local supply.
In early September, Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) adjusted the price of imported white rice nationwide from RM2,350 a tonne to RM3,200 a tonne in line with current global market prices.
This caused the price of imported white rice to go up from RM33 to RM39 per 10kg bag, compared to local white rice sold at a controlled price of about RM26 per 10kg bag or RM2.60 per kg.
Checks at several supermarkets and grocery stores in Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Perlis, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan have found that there is not enough local white rice on sale.
This has forced some food traders to buy imported white rice which, in turn, forces them to raise their prices.
A rice company owner in Selangor, who only wanted to be known as Ah Chong, said the shortage of local white rice is also because the harvest season in the state only begins in mid-October, which means the rice would only reach stores in early November.
In Kedah, state domestic trade and cost of living director Affendi Rajini Kanth said inspections at 30 premises found that super special local rice was in short supply.
“Only two of the 30 premises had super special local rice and that, too, at very low quantities. It’s true that only imported rice is available in the market currently,” he said.
The manager of an Econsave supermarket in Bercham, Perak, said his store had been experiencing a shortage of local white rice supply since June.
GV Rakesh said the situation worsened three weeks ago after the prices of imported rice went up.
“Usually, we receive 2,000 to 3,000 bags of 10kg rice in a week from the producers, but now, the supply of local rice has been reduced by more than 50%,” he said.
The supermarket also limits each customer to two bags of rice.
In Sarawak, there are no such problems as local white rice can still be found in abundance, although prices are higher than usual.
This was based on checks at several supermarkets in Kuching, where local white rice was being sold at RM40 for a 10kg bag.