Sanusi mulls introducing 'Kedah Rice' to ensure cheaper, sufficient local white rice supply for the people

SUNGAI PETANI: The Kedah government will study a possibility of introducing "Kedah Rice" to ensure the people in the state have access to cheaper and sufficient supply of locally-produced white rice.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said it is a rational suggestion since Kedah is the largest rice producer in the country, contributing 45 per cent of the national production.

"Yes, we might want to produce 'Kedah Rice' since Terengganu already produced their very own 'Ganu Rice'.

"We hope to sell locally-produced white rice cheaper than the market price since we are the largest rice producer in the country.

"As the largest rice producer, the rice sold in this state shouldn't be expensive," Sanusi told reporters after taking part in a cycling charity ride event organised by Kedah State Development Corporation (PKNK) and other state government-linked companies in Pantai Merdeka here today.

Present was PKNK chief executive officer Datuk Ishak Murat.

However, Sanusi said the state would have to study the legal aspect of the idea first while acknowledging that it might be objected by the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry

"We have to go through the legal aspect first since rice falls under the controlled item under the ministry, so I will study the proposal first," he said.

Sanusi was commenting on the proposal by the Kedah Consumer Association (Cake) for rice produced by local farmers to be sold in the state first before being distributed to other states.

It is learnt that Cake has submitted the proposal to the state government last month in the wake of the locally produced white rice supply crisis that has been going on since last September.

It is understood that Cake has reasoned that the 450,000 metric tonnes of rice produced by farmers in Kedah is sufficient to cover the demand in the state.

Meanwhile, on the federal government's move to introduce Malaysia Madani rice, Sanusi said it is not easy to fix a ceiling price for imported white rice below the current market value.

"I heard that they (the federal government) are not ready (to launch the initiative), they have not even decided on rice source.

"It is not that easy to fix the price for imported white rice. If they want to set below the market price, then the government has to subsidise (imported rice)," he said.

On Wednesday, the National Action Council for Cost of Living (NACCOL) chairman Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Faisal announced that the government will introduce the Malaysia Madani white rice priced at RM30 for a 10 kg sack on Feb 19.

He had also announced that the price for a 5kg sack of Malaysia Madani white rice is set at RM15.50 while a 1kg bag of rice is priced at RM3.50.

He was reported as saying that the Malaysia Madani white rice is expected to be available in the market starting from March 1.

Syed Hussin had said following the move, there will no longer be local white rice (SST) and imported white rice (SSI) categories, adding that the Malaysia Madani white rice will be the sole category.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim expressed his confidence that price of rice can be reduced after several detailed proposals by NACCOL to be tabled in a meeting next week.

However, earlier today Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu announced that the government has not made any decision on introducing a single category of white rice known under the Malaysia Madani white rice branding.

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