Stop the monopoly of rice import;review the policy of 70% self-sufficiency.
DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw calls on the Government to review seriously whether:
(1) to stop the monopoly of rice import by Bernas, (2) to decide if the policy of 70% self-sufficiency is still reasonable, (3) to open more land for paddy cultivation, (4) to ascertain whether the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs or the Ministry of Agrculture and Agro-based Industry or both are effectively in charge of the price of rice.
Recently, many factors contribute to the hike in the price of rice in the world. There is a pressure on the price of the commodity in this country. Bernas does not have competition in the import of rice. Although for many years we have asked the Government to review the part of Bernas in rice import and the strategy of 70% self-suffciency in rice. But, this fell on deaf ear.
Now, Bernas does what it likes. The relationship between consumers and Bernas can be liken to that of a sheep and a tiger, or the weak against the strong. It is time for the Government to study this state of affair and to find ways to introduce competition in rice import.
Rice of ordinary grade contains 15% broken grain and that of super grade between 5 to 10%. Ordinary grade is a controlled item. There is shortage of supply. Most Malaysians eat super grade rice.
When Bernas bought paddy from farmers, it paid RM 700 per tonne. Two months ago, other companies offered RM 1150, forcing Bernas to pay RM 1,000. The increase in rice price is not reflected in the price of paddy.
Two days ago, I said that the effort of the Government to open up land (100,000 acres) to plant paddy in Sabah and Sarawak may show its result in 10 years. The Government bases its policy of 70% self-sufficiency of rice on strategic factors. 30% are imported. It is relatively cheaper for countries such as Thailand to produce rice. Now, for the first time in history, Malaysian rice is smuggled into Thailand.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry says that a plot of paddy land (1.2 hectares or 3.3 acres) can produce 8 tonnes of paddy. That in Endau Rompin, Chui Chap and Sekinchan can reach 12 to 13 tonnes.
Dr Tan Seng Giaw