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Govt mulls increasing rice stockpile


February 1, 2008

Govt mulls increasing rice stockpile

The government is considering raising the current two-week stockpile of rice to, perhaps, three months' supply to consolidate the nation's food security, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Wednesday.

"Based on an agreement, Bernas (Padiberas Nasional Berhad) has to provide a stockpile for a period of two weeks, and we believe two weeks is not sufficient," he told reporters after the soft launch of the "Program Bicara Tani" (Talk Show) to get more people to venture into agriculture, here.

Muhyiddin said the decision to increase the rice stockpile was driven by many factors, including a rising global demand for the staple food.

"People who consumed flour (products) are now eating rice. People who ate rice once a day want to eat rice twice a day. And, countries which don't have a rice stockpile would like to create a stockpile as well," he said.

Muhyiddin said the government had to ensure that rice was available whenever it was needed, at reasonable prices and from reliable sources.

He said he was looking forward to the inaugural meeting of the proposed National Price Council scheduled for next week during which the question of the rice stockpile was expected to be discussed.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak had announced last week that a national stockpile of essential items would be established under the proposed National Price Council to ensure sufficient supply of the essential goods and to keep their prices stable.

On another matter, Muhyiddin said the ministry had produced more than 8,000 agro-entrepreneurs through various programmes implemented over the last three years.

Nevertheless, he added, efforts were ongoing to draw more young people to the agricultural sector to create agro-entrepreneurs in the fields of processing, marketing, logistics and supply chain.

"Up to now, most of our farmers have garnered expertise in farming and crops. They have not focused on such areas as logistics and supply chain, leaving that work to others.

"As such, they have not been garnering the maximum yield from their efforts. The middle-men reap the profits, those who supply the facilities, services, equipment and factories and do the marketing," he said.

Courtesy Bernama

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