Emphasis, 'sic' notation, and blue text is mine
April 16, 2008 15:36 PM
Malaysia's Rice Industry: A Revamp Needed?
By Melati Mohd Ariff
(The Second of a Two-Part Feature)
KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 (Bernama) -- In the padi research aspect, Malaysia is never left behind.
The Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi) and Universiti Putra Malaysia have many researchers from various fields of expertise like soil, saplings and biotechnology.
This was disclosed by Dr Amin Mahir Abdullah, the Agri-business and Management Policy laboratory head for UPMs Agriculture and food Policy Research Institute (IKDPM).
He told Bernama, Mardi, as the paddy research agency, had produced 34 paddy strains with the latest find being the MRQ74 or "Mas Wangi" in 2005.
"This rice is said to be on par with the Thai fragrant rice. However the production is not widespread as if it is not being able to compete in the market. I am not sure why this happens?," said Dr Amin Mahir.
The country's existing rice stockpile plus the imports, is reported to be enough until September this year. The government was reported to have given the green light to increase the stockpile.
Even though Malaysia is not a net importer for rice, (is that true?) a more pro-active approach is needed to prevent the country from experiencing a food supply crisis.
Rice needs an efficient stockpile policy. Many are waiting for the measures to be taken by the National Price Council, set up last January, in implementing the National Stockpile methods.
The stockpile is meant to stabilize the price and supply of a certain commodity. It is also a form of food security in cases of emergencies.
In Malaysia, the stockpile serves as a safeguard to ensure the price and production of rice would not turn out into a major issue.
FUNCTION OF STOCKPILE
Dr Amin Mahir said the main function of the stockpile is to smoothen matters on rice usage and consumption.
"We should remember that padi is a seasonal crop. Its yield can be harvested after three months of cultivation. Theoretically, after a harvest there would be excess in the market and hence, we should have a storage system to meet the consumers needs before the next harvest season.
"The storage should be an efficient method to ensure that there is no chaos in the usage process," he said.
As Malaysia imports only 30 percent of its rice needs, the period of one to three months is ideal for the stockpile. (Is this true?)
However it would be better for the rice stockpile to be determined by a formula or model that takes into account the weather, agronomic and market factors.
"This model or formula actually serves as an early warning by making projections on the production, weather changes and expected pest attacks.
"Therefore, the quantity of the stockpile can be determined based on the stockpiles early warning system", he said.
Dr Amin Mahir opined that the government should regulate and control the rice stockpile.
On the import of rice, Dr Amin Mahir views this issue in terms of the industrys (sic) overall performance.
He calls for the lift of the import monopoly once the sole importing permit granted to Bernas expires in 2011.
Bernas was given the sole right to import rice for the period of 15 years from 1996 after the Lembaga Padi dan Beras Negara was privatised.
The move was to regulate rice imports and reduce competition with the locally produced rice.
"I understand the competition expected to be faced by the local rice producers. There will be competition in the market too. However the move would reduce the monopoly and provide fair and healthy competition", he said.
Dr Amin Mahir said the free-for-all would make the local farmers to (sic) work harder in order to produce better quality paddy and rice, on par with the imported varieties.
"In other words, we will encourage the creation of commercially-viable paddy entrepreneurs and not mere part-time farmers.
"Then, domestic consumers would happily switch to the local rice variety which has superior quality", he added.
Now read this:
|"Thailand says Malaysia rice stockpile to last 15 days|
|May 8, 08 4:55pm|
| Thailand said Thursday (8th May 2008) it would provide 500,000 tonnes of rice to Malaysia in an emergency purchase as the latter's national stockpile had enough supplies to last only 15 days. |
Is Malaysia's rice industry deteriorating?
Could the BERNAS privatised monopoly be the main cause of the apparent rice shortages in Malaysia?
This may well be the case.
The matter needs to be investigated,and the problems solved, otherwise,
- greater dangers await