KOTA KINABALU (Sept 4): The country's rice buffer stock will be gradually increased to 290,000 metric tons by 2023, said Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee.
The Beluran MP said Syarikat Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas) would bear the cost of increasing the national rice stockpiles amounting to RM250 million as agreed in the concession agreement it had signed with the government.
"By the end of the year, Bernas will increase the country's rice buffer stock from 150,000 metric tons to 200,000 metric tons," he told reporters after inspecting the national rice buffer stock warehouse in Telipok here today.
Also present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan who is also Sabah Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries’ Padi and Rice Regulatory Division director-general Azman Mahmood.
Ronald said under the agreement signed in December 2020, the government has set 10 social obligations for the company to fulfil which would be monitored and evaluated annually.
He said one of the key social obligations was to preserve, maintain and manage the country's rice buffer stock by complying with all safety guidelines and standard operating procedures prescribed by the government.
On the inspection today, Ronald said it was in line with the terms stipulated in the concession agreement to ensure the country's rice stockpiles are always sufficient and stored in good condition at all times in all 31 warehouses nationwide.
He said Malaysians consume 2.5 million metric tons of rice annually while the country can only produce 70 per cent of the requirement, therefore all efforts should be mobilised to ensure the country has adequate rice supply such as importing the supply.
"Malaysia imports about 700,000 to 900,000 metric tons of rice every year to cover the shortage of rice production in the country and meet the demand for premium and special rice," he said.