KUALA LUMPUR: Uncertain weather and diseases throughout the last harvest season between April and August have caused the supply of local white rice to face slight ‘interruptions’ in the market.

Farmers Organisation Authority (LPP) deputy director of development Amir Mat Amin usually, on average, padi yield per harvest can reach seven metric tonnes per hectare, but for last season it dipped to only four metric tonnes.

The lack of local white rice became more apparent after the increase in the price of imported rice, which in turn has forced some consumers to switch to local white rice.

“There are also farmers whose yield has been affected due to floods. A shift in consumption has also contributed to this shortage,” he said when contacted by Bernama.

This situation was acknowledged by traders and supermarkets during checks by Bernama in Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Perlis, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan.

In early September, Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas) adjusted the price of imported white rice nationwide from RM2,350 a tonne to RM3,200 a tonne in line with current global market prices.

This caused the price of imported white rice to go up from RM33 to RM39 compared to local white rice sold at a controlled price of about RM2.60 per kilogramme (kg) or RM26 per 10kg bag.

Consumers currently can’t seem to find enough local white rice on the shelves, leaving them with only imported rice, which can be expensive, especially for the B40 group.

In SELANGOR, a rice company owner, who only wanted to be known as Ah Chong, said the current shortage of local white rice was also because the harvest season in the state only begins in mid-October, which meant that the staple food would only hit the stores in early November.

Checks at several supermarkets and grocery stores around Sungai Buloh and Shah Alam found depleted supplies of local white rice on the shelves.

In MELAKA, checks at grocery stores, hypermarkets and supermarkets around Ayer Keroh here found that consumers were faced with a lack of supply of local white rice, leading to food traders being forced to switch to imported rice and increasing food prices slightly.

.Housewife, Kamaria Ismail, 38, she has had to use imported rice in the past three weeks after finding it difficult to purchase local white rice.

“I have not come across the 5kg pack for some time while for the 10kg, I managed to purchase it once and then I could not find it anymore. So, I have no choice but to get the imported rice although it is expensive... and prices have gone up several times too,” the mother of four said.

In PAHANG, trader Muhammad Yusuf Hashim, 40, from Felda Selancar 2, Rompin, said he has not been getting his regular supply of local white rice for the past month, which has left him only selling imported rice for the time being.

He tried sourcing for supply in Segamat, Johor, but that too, proved futile.

“At first I didn’t believe it either, but when I asked kept asking around, some (suppliers) took me to their warehouse so I could see for myself that the place was empty,” he said.

A supermarket manager in Kuantan, who declined to be identified, said local rice supply at the premises started facing problems in mid-August when supplies began coming in lower quantities. It got worse at the beginning of this month, she added.

In KEDAH, Kedah Domestic Trade and Cost of Living director Affendi Rajini Kanth said inspections at 30 premises around the state found that Super Special Local Rice (SST) was not available in the market.

“Out of the 30, only two premises had them, and that too, at very low quantities... it’s true that only imported rice is available in the market currently.

In PERAK, Bercham Econsave manager GV Rakesh said the lack of local white rice in his store in Ipoh was not something new, adding that the shortage began in June.

The situation worsened three weeks ago after prices of imported rice went up, adding that suppliers could not then cope with demand for local white rice, he said.

“Usually, we get a supply of around 2,000 to 3,000 bags of the 10-kg rice in a week from the producers... but now local rice supply has been reduced by more than 50 per cent of the usual amount we normally get,” he said.

He said the supermarket was currently also carrying out rationing of two bags for each user.

In PENANG, some grocery store traders said that they have not received local white rice supply from wholesalers since last week and even if there is stock, it is only around 10 to 20 bags each for the five to 10kg packages.

Ahmad Ridzuan Ahmad Razak, a grocery store owner in Sungai Dua, said he has been contacting wholesalers several times since last week only to be informed that they were having problems securing stock from producers, and that they could only offer imported rice at the moment.

“I am not sure if there are those in the rice production chain who are hoarding supplies as they have also been claiming that they do not have stock. I even went to the supermarket to buy local white rice for my grocery store but none was available,” he said.

However, in SARAWAK, there were no such problems, as local white rice could still be found in abundance in the stores, although prices were much higher than usual.

This was based on checks at several supermarkets in Kuching, where local white rice was being sold at RM40 for a 10kg bag. - Bernama

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