Govt should try negotiate rice imports from India

KUALA LUMPUR: Consumer groups advised the government to try to negotiate a deal to import rice from India until local rice supply stabilises.

The Consumers' Association of Penang (CAP) said that Singapore is one of the beneficiaries of import rice from India though the latter has already imposed a ban on exports.

Its education officer N. V. Subbarow said the government could take the extra step to approach India and initiate talks for the sake of Malaysians.

"We are heading towards a bigger crisis if the stocks are not replenished soon.

"People are fearing the stock of rice will finish, hence the reason they resort to panic buying.

"However, if the stock is there, the pressure would be off their shoulders.

"Talk to India to resume imports. If not, talk to other exporting countries if we can get more from them," he said when contacted today.

Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) chief executive officer T. Saravanan also sees that efforts to obtain rice from India would solve the problem, though for a short term.

He said that for India to lift the ban on its exports and for Malaysia to benefit from it, the countries must be prepared for proper trade negotiations.

In the meantime, he proposed to limit the sale of the available white rice and the direct beneficiaries should be the B40 groups, not the eatery outlets.

"The government must end bulk buying of rice. Let every household have one packet each.

"Limits should be imposed for local consumption, such as restaurants as well.

"At the end of the day, the ones struggling would be the B40 groups, hence special assistance should be given for them," he added.

Lack of supplies for local rice has reportedly caused panic buying amongst consumers in the market.

India has also banned exports of rice, which accounts for more than 40 per cent of world rice exports.

The move is to ensure adequate availability of non-basmati white rice in the Indian market.

The issue which has been ongoing for several months is under the attention of the authorities, with the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry believing shortage of local rice supply is expected to be resolved by year end with the implementation of several immediate measures.

Among the steps is increasing supplies at hypermarkets and giving discounts for companies to buy imported rice for their businesses.

Most Popular
Related Article
Says Stories