SERDANG: The subsidy rate for padi and the irrigation system in rice fields are among the issues that will be given priority by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (KPKM) in Budget 2024.

Its minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu said this was following input obtained through Budget 2024 Dialogue Session for the country’s padi and rice sector which was attended by over 100 industry players including padi growers, government and private agencies, academics and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

“They (those present) asked for this matter to be looked into to help them better grow padi and increase the white rice production in the future,“ he said during a press conference after attending dialogue session here today.

Mohamad said the dialogue participants also urged the government to monitor the possibility of an increase in the price of fertilisers and pesticides following the increase in the Padi Price Subsidy Scheme (SSHP) rate from RM360 per tonne to RM500.

The government agreed to raise the SSHP rate effective Aug 9 - after remaining unchanged for 25 years - aimed at encouraging increased productivity of rice production among padi farmers.

Mohammad also assured that the supply of local white rice was sufficient until next year’s Aidilfitri following the government’s intervention by implementing the Special Local White Rice Programme to increase the rice production quota in the market by more than 20 per cent.

Meanwhile, on the alleged lack of supply of local white rice in the market, Padi and Rice Regulation director-general Datuk Azman Mahmood said this was due to consumers making purchases in large quantities.

“That’s why the government has set a maximum limit of 100 kg of local white rice per buyer starting today, until the situation stabilises,“ he said.

The media today reported that the government had set the maximum purchase limit based on Regulation 10(1)(b) of the Padi and Rice Control (Wholesaler and Retailer Licensing) Regulations 1996.

On a separate note, Azman said KPKM had not received any complaints with regard to the activity of repackaging local white rice as imported rice as claimed in a recent viral video.

On Tuesday (Sept 5), a 28-second video went viral on social media, showing several rice bags being repackaged in a factory, with the person recording it claiming it was local rice being repackaged to be sold as imported rice. -Bernama

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