Rice millers call government to set one grade for local, imported white rice

KANGAR: The Coalition of Rice Millers Malaysia is calling for the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry to come up with a single grade for white rice regardless of locally produced or imported grains. 

Its chairman Marzukhi Othman said move is necessary to curb manipulation at the wholesalers level by packaging locally produced white rice as imported rice. 

"I think we have unfairly placed locally produced white rice quality as substandard to imported white rice while the truth is the quality of our white rice is far superior than imported ones. 

"What is actually happening now is that wholesalers are mixing imported rice with locally produced white rice and selling the grains at between RM40 and RM48 per 10kg packaging," he said in a press conference attended by rice millers from Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor.

At the same time, Marzukhi said the millers are required to sell processed rice to wholesalers at the ceiling price of RM2,250 per metric tonne as set by the government.

"This is unfair to us as rice millers who have invested millions of ringgit, as well as to farmers who are toiling the land to cultivate high quality crop.

"Hence, for as long as there are different grades and pricing for locally produced and imported white rice, it will not help resolve matters should there is a future hike in imported rice price. 

"We should learn the lesson that this issue concerning rice supply will not be resolved for as long as there are leakages at the wholesalers level," he said.

The coalition also lauded the ministry's willingness to review the ceiling price of RM2.60 per kilogramme for locally produced white rice, since the last revision was done in 2008.

"We hope it will be done soon. We are leaving it to the government to decide on the pricing for the single white rice grade," he said.

However, Marzukhi said the coalition gave their assurance that they are willing to increase the padi purchasing price to RM1,500 per metric tonne should the government agree to raise the ceiling price of retail white price to RM3.20 per kilogramme. 

"The millers are suffering losses as the ceiling price is way low as compared to the rising costs.

"Even the farmers are suffering due to skyrocketing input costs with the current cost of producing a kilogramme of rice is about 46 cent, not to mention other costs such as operational costs, utilities and so on," he said.

During the press conference, Marzukhi also demonstrated the difference between locally produced white rice and those imported from Thailand, Myanmar and India. 

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