KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will limit retail purchases and step up enforcement to prevent locally produced rice being sold as the more expensive imported grain, as the fallout from Indian export curbs continues to upend the market.
Purchases will be capped at 100 kilogrammes per person effective immediately until supply concerns ease, said Azman Mahmood, director-general of the Paddy and Rice Regulatory Board. He made the remarks after a government-convened meeting with farmers and the state importer to discuss supply security.
“Almost every day I receive complaints from people about their difficulty in getting local white rice,” Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu said at the meeting, according to a transcript. “This issue is being looked into seriously by the ministry to ensure supplies are sufficient.”
Export restrictions by top shipper India have sent shockwaves across Asia and Africa, prompting worried consumers to impose measures to secure supply and contain rising food costs. Malaysia started checks on wholesalers and commercial millers last month after allegations that local grain was being sold as imported rice at higher prices, according to Sabu.
Malaysia’s stockpiles are currently sufficient and local white rice prices are still among the lowest in Southeast Asia at 2.60 ringgit (20 baht) a kilogramme, Sabu said after the meeting. The country, which consumes about 200,000 tonnes a month, has inventories equivalent to 1.5 months of consumption, he said.
The government has conducted more than 900 enforcement checks since July to ensure the supply stability of local white rice, Sabu said.
Padiberas Nasional Bhd, the state trading enterprise known as Bernas, last week announced a 36% price hike for all imported white rice. The country buys about a third of its supply from overseas, mainly from India, Thailand, Pakistan and Vietnam.