KUALA LUMPUR: The shortage of local rice supply is expected to be resolved by year end with the implementation of several immediate measures by the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry's Padi and Rice Regulatory Division.
Its director-general Datuk Azman Mahmood said a meeting was held with restaurant operators, hawkers and relevant parties recently in Putrajaya on the matter.
Among the steps included increasing supplies at hypermarkets and giving discounts for companies to buy imported rice for their businesses.
During the meeting, it was decided that 103 wholesale licenses would be approved and through it, eatery operators registered under business associations would be able to buy Imported White Rice (BPI) at a wholesale price of RM160 for every 50kg.
He said associations would also be allowed to produce their own brand using the wholesale license.
"We also agreed that Basmathi rice is a special rice and not subject to BPI whole price, (but) would depend on the float pricing determined by the market.
"In terms of intervention, we also decided to set (rice) supplies at 41 Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) and 1,400 Farmers' Organisation Authority (Peladang) outlets," he told Harian Metro.
It is hoped that the public would be able to obtain local rice at the existing outlets through the interagency collaboration, he said.
Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu was recently reported saying that the ministry was taking proactive steps to inspect food security stock on the ground, particularly rice, the staple food for Malaysians.
He said the ministry had taken intervention measures such as increasing the rice production quota by more than 20 per cent in order to ensure sufficient supply, as well as a dedicated initiative called Special BPT (local white rice) programme.
This was following complaints on the local white rice shortage.