ALOR STAR: Increasing the ceiling price of local white rice (BPT) will stem out alleged illicit activity of repackaging BPT to be sold at the price of imported white rice.
The Consumers Association of Kedah (Cake) president Yusrizal Yusoff said that the current price of RM26 per 10 kilogramme (kg) is too low, forcing rice packagers to resort to illicit means to remain sustainable.
He said that raising BPT prices to RM32 per 10kg would promote the return of local white rice packets into the market which will still remain at an affordable price range.
"Previously, when the government announced an increase to padi purchase prices to help padi farmers, local white rice packets suddenly went missing in the market.
"This is because the RM26 per 10kg price is no longer sustainable for business and this price has been maintained for over 11 years. With the prices set to RM32 per 10kg hopefully we will see the return of local white rice in the market.
"This will benefit consumers as it is still much more affordable than imported white rice while ensuring a sustainable solution for all parties in the rice production line" he said when contacted today.
Yusrizal pointed out that certain cases of price hikes are unavoidable as cost of production and operations have increased.
Hence, he stressed that the government must seek to increase the people's income, which has failed to keep up with the rising cost of living.
"The government needs to find a way to address this issue, rising cost of goods and services is unavoidable but we must ensure that the people's income are in line with this.
"We urge the government to increase minimum wage and encourage companies to compensate employees fairly," he added.
Yesterday, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu said the government will review a proposal by the Paddy and Rice Regulatory Division to increase the ceiling price of BPT to protect the future of all parties in the food production chain, especially rice farmers.
He reportedly said the increase in the price of the BPT ceiling is important to prevent the occurrence of local rice piling up as manufacturers are no longer interested in continuing to purchase local rice due to low prices.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Padi Farmers Brotherhood Organisation (Pesawah) executive council member Abdul Rashid Yob said the move will do justice to local padi farmers that are struggling with the rising cost of padi farming.
"Currently, the cost for farmers to cultivate padi is RM3,000 to RM3,500 per hectare, with a target yield set at seven metric tonnes per hectare. Government subsidies only covers 20 per cent of this cost, leaving the rest to be borne by farmers.
"If the padi farmers can yield five metric tonnes, their overall income is around RM6,500, and after deducting costs, they receive around RM3,000, that will be about only RM500 per month," he said.
He said that if the BPT ceiling price is set at RM3.20, rice millers would purchase padi from farmers between RM1,500 and RM1,600 per tonne.
He said this will increase farmer's income to RM7,500 compared to the current RM6,500 per month for every five metric tonnes yield per hectare.
"The government needs to create a win-win situation so that all parties benefit. If farmers alone have to bear all the burdens just for the prices to appear cheap for the people, it's not fair," he added.