GEORGE TOWN, Sept 19 — Penang became the first state to receive 30,000 kilogrammes (kg) of rice through the local white rice (BPT) distribution intervention programme today in an effort to increase the supply of rice in the state.
State Agrotechnology and Food Security and Cooperatives Development Committee chairman Fahmi Zainol said the 3,000 sacks of rice, weighing 10kg each, were marketed through the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) sales centres statewide from today.
“Penang became the first state to receive rice through the BPT intervention initiative and it will be sold or distributed through FAMA outlets in the state at a price set by the government and the people can obtain the supply of rice there.
“Through this programme, the BPT supply will be sent to the state in stages to meet market needs and overcome the supply of rice to ensure people in the state can obtain cheaper rice instead of the more expensive imported rice.
“However, through this programme, every individual can only purchase a maximum of two sacks, which is 20kg of the BPT, and retailers 10 sacks (100kg),” he told Bernama here today.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu was previously reported to have said that the supply of BPT nationwide is expected to recover within a month following immediate intervention steps being carried out by the government.
In addition, Fahmi said that based on his survey of hypermarkets, supermarkets and grocery stores in the past week, he found that there was no supply of BPT in the market and only imported rice was available.
“I hope that this BPT distribution intervention programme will at least help residents in this state obtain rice supply and I also ask the public not to make panic buys (of the BPT) as this will only prolong the problem,” he said.
He said Penang will apply to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security for the state government to be given autonomy to control its own rice production to ensure ample supply in the state always.
“For the long term, the state government seeks to obtain paddy seed production quota to create a seed bank in the state. This way, it will indirectly prevent monopoly and ensure paddy seeds can be distributed directly to farmers,” he said.
He said there are currently 5,262 farmers in Penang who are cultivating 12,105 hectares of paddy area, adding that last year the rice production was 122,321 tonnes while for this year, the harvesting process is still going on.