PEKAN: The Agriculture and Food Securities Ministry (KPKM) through the Padi and Rice Regulatory Board will work with the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) to investigate allegations of syndicates in the country’s rice industry.
Its minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu said the investigation is expected to take time as MyCC needs to understand the overall structure of the industry first.
He also said the food chain aspect in the rice sector involves multiple stages, necessitating a detailed and comprehensive investigation.
“Allegations are investigated over time; allegations are one thing, investigations another, and after completing an investigation, we discuss actions… investigations are ongoing,” he told a press conference here today.
He was speaking to newsmen after attending the opening ceremony of the Large-Scale Smart Paddy Fields (SMART SBB) Ala Sekinchan at the Permatang Durian Water User Group, Merchong Scheme, which was graced and officiated by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.
The Bumiputera Rice Association of Malaysia (Barim) had claimed that there was a certain ‘game’ going on within Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas), in addition to claiming that cartels were most likely in existence.
Barim president Ismail Awang claimed association members did not receive supplies of local rice from Bernas on the grounds that there was no stock available, while at the same time, most hypermarkets received such supplies.
On today’s programme, Mohamad said SMART SBB Ala Sekinchan would be expanded to several states, including Sabah and Sarawak in stages, and the latest to be launched in Pasir Puteh, Kelantan.
Meanwhile, he announced that the entire Merchong Scheme covered an area of 4,134 hectares with a total of 1,716 padi farmers.
“There are 10 Water User Groups (KPA) under the Merchong Scheme, and this project will focus primarily on the Permatang Durian KPA for the first phase of project implementation involving 84 participants with an area covering 168 hectares,” he said.
Mohamad said the expected average padi yield is six metric tonnes per hectare, with production for the entire project area totaling 27,813.876 metric tonnes and rice production of 16,688.325 metric tonnes per season.
“At the same time, if planting intensity is increased to twice a year, the expected rice production could reach up to 33,376.65 metric tonnes of rice, capable of meeting the needs of the entire population of Pahang,” he said.
Besides this, he said a total of RM1.85 billion had been allocated to ease the cost of living for rice farmers and ensure the sustainability of the country’s rice production last year. – Bernama