Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said that the integrated enforcement activities under an operation code-named Ops Jamin will continue for the time being to address and restore the shortage of rice supply promptly.
He said since its commencement on July 7, the operation had seen 37 inspections conducted involving 2,322 manufacturing, wholesale, and retail premises nationwide, with 142 complaints received related to issues concerning rice supply and prices.
“Among the complaints received are related to the very high price difference between local white rice (BPT) and imported white rice (BPI).
“This has led traders and restaurant operators to switch to BPT as a cheaper option, resulting in a shortage of BPT in the market, especially in Sabah, Sarawak, and Labuan,” he said in a statement after chairing the National Action Council for Cost of Living (NACCOL) Implementation Monitoring Committee meeting here today.
On July 7, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living (KPDN) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (KPKM) collaborated in the operation to enforce and monitor rice supply nationwide.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Zahid said during the meeting, that he had also expressed his opinion that the national rice stockpile should only be used together with the existing rice stocks if the rice supply situation in the country cannot be restored in the near future.
“I also emphasised that the coordinated efforts across ministries should continue, especially initiatives like the Rahmah Sale, Agro Madani Sale, and MyGrocer@Wilayah, and these initiatives should be expanded to the state and parliamentary constituencies in every state,” said Ahmad Zahid, who is also Minister of Rural and Regional Development (KKDW).
He said that various initiatives and programmes have been undertaken by the government to ensure the availability and presence of local rice, including the BPT Special Programme, which has seen a projection of an additional monthly supply of 23,000 tonnes.
He also said that the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) and the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (FELCRA) have been tasked with supplying rice in areas facing disruptions and have launched a hotline for consumers to report issues and problems related to rice supply and mismanagement.
On chicken and egg supply, Ahmad Zahid said KPKM has also been instructed to ensure the availability and price stability of chicken and eggs at the farm level to guarantee their presence in the wholesale and retail markets.
“KPDN will also ensure continuous monitoring and enforcement of prices and supplies,” he said.
Ahmad Zahid said he also proposed that all agencies under the KKDW, particularly the Regional Development Authority, initiate the cultivation of legumes to reduce the cost of importing chicken feed.
He said this proposal had been discussed in Sabah and Sarawak for the use of state land and it was also agreed to establish smart collaborations with the KPKM to ensure that the price and supply of chicken remain stable.
Legumes are plants from the Fabaceae group or crops grown in agriculture. They are used as food for humans and livestock, and as green manure to improve soil fertility.
The government has recently announced approximately RM3.77 billion had been spent on chicken and egg subsidies to ensure the stability of chicken and egg supplies and prices for the period from 2022 to 2023.