Sunday, March 29, 2020

Rice - the minister & the ministry

MM Online:

Agriculture minister rubbishes report claiming Malaysia may be running low on rice

Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee has denied a report claiming that Malaysia only has enough rice to last two-and-a-half months

Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — Datuk Seri Ronald Kiandee has denied a report claiming that Malaysia only has enough rice to last two-and-a-half months.

In a statement issued today, the agriculture and food industry minister said that the country’s current rice stocks were “stable, controlled and consistent”.

“The ministry denies the media report that claimed the country’s rice stocks can only last two-and-a-half months,” said Kiandee.

“The current stock of local rice at factories, wholesalers and retailers is as high as 523,000 metric tonnes.

“This does not take into account existing stocks of locally produced rice and imported rice in the country.

Kiandee then went on to say that rice imports have not been interrupted by the movement control order (MCO) before stressing that this category only makes up 30 per cent of Malaysia’s entire needs.

“At the moment, rice imports have not been affected and continue as usual. Apart from Vietnam, rice is imported from other producer countries like Thailand, Pakistan, Myanmar, India and Cambodia.

“Bernas has also been directed by the government to guarantee and increase rice imports to the country,” he added in reference to Syarikat Padiberas Nasional Bhd, which is involved in the procurement and processing of paddy, and the importation, warehousing, distribution and marketing of rice in Malaysia, among other matters.

Bernas is supposed to ensure that Malaysia’s dependence on rice imports is reduced to 35% or less. This is to ensure that, in the event of a war or a major catastrophe in any of the rice exporting countries like Thailand, Vietnam, China, etc., Malaysia will not be starved of rice — reminiscent of WWII when Malayans then had to eat Tapioca.

Malaysia is the only rice producing country in South-East Asia that is highly dependent on rice imports. Malaysia is at a great security risk and all our neighbours have to do is to stop selling us rice and we will be brought to our knees. And Bernas’ role is to reduce this dependence.

But this is not happening. Instead, ................................

The government has acknowledged the importance of rice in the food security policy of the country. This is especially so after the 1997-98 currency crisis and the ever-increasing import bills for rice and other food products. Under the NAP3, the Self-Sufficiency Level (SSL) for rice is set at 65% until 2010.

Malaysia, therefore, is still very far from self-sufficiency and needs to import the balance 35% of its needs while other countries surrounding Malaysia not only DO NOT import their rice, but exports it — to Malaysia. Even China, which needs to feed 20% of the world’s population, can export rice.Why does Malaysia still depend on a high level of rice imports to feed the nation? And why does the government allow this? The answer is simple! ...

For more, read Malaysia-Today's article here

Kiandee ended by reassuring Malaysians not to worry about the availability of rice in the country, saying that the ministry will ensure that the supply is enough to meet the country’s monthly needs of 200,000 metric tonnes.

Yesterday, Reuters quoted the Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry as saying Malaysia only has enough rice to last two-and-a-half months, after Vietnam suspended exports to feed its own people amid the Covid-19 epidemic.

Vietnam, the third largest rice exporter, on Wednesday said it would not sign any new rice export contracts until March 28 to ensure sufficient domestic supplies, raising concerns about global food security.

In Malaysia, various ministers have sought to reassure Malaysians that food suppliers have enough essential goods to last the duration of the MCO, in a bid to bring an end to the panic buying that has been seen across the country since its implementation.

Yesterday the Agricultural & Food Industry Ministry said (as reported by Reuters, a credible international news agency) that Malaysia has only 2.5 months of rice consumption. Malaysia requires about 200,000 metric tons of rice per month.

The minister (not ministry) in saying "The current stock of local rice at factories, wholesalers and retailers is as high as 523,000 metric tonnes" supports the ministry's (not minister's) assertion that Malaysia has rice stock that will last only 2.5 months.

Of course the minister (not the ministry) claimed that the mentioned 523,000 metric tonnes have been made up of stocks at factories, wholesalers and retailers, and do not take into account existing stocks of locally produced rice and imported rice in the country. In other words the national stockpile has much more - but how much more, the minister (not the ministry) did NOT tell.

Who do you want to believe? The minister or the ministry, wakakaka.

Secondly, the minister (not the ministry) has dismissed the ominous 'threat' of Vietnam embargoing the export of her rice until she has done a comprehensive stock-taking of her own needs.

By the by, Vietnam has a population of almost 98 million for this year, which is about 3 times Malaysia's own population of almost 33 million.

The minister (not the ministry) claims that there are rice-importing alternatives to Vietnam such as Thailand, Pakistan, Myanmar, India and Cambodia.

Although Thailand typically produces 3 to 5 percent of the world’s rice, it accounts for nearly a quarter of global trade. The average annual yields of Thai paddy rice run to 30-32 million tons, or 20-21 million tons of milled rice.

This is consumed by domestic and export markets in roughly equal quantities Thai rice is recognized globally for its high quality and as such it is in demand in a large number of countries - Miller Magazine

But has he (the minister, not the ministry) ascertained whether those countries may do exactly what Vietnam has done, embargo their respective rice exports until they can be sure their own people have enough for the predicted duration of this dire period?

Thailand has a population of 70 million, twice Malaysia's.

Pakistan has a population of 221 million, seven times Malaysia's.

Myanmar has a population of 54.5 million, 1.6 times Malaysia's.

Khmer Republic (Cambodia) has a population of almost 17 million, half Malaysia's.

I won't bother to mention India's and Indonesia's respective population as you no doubt know already.

India & her population 

I appreciate the minister (not the ministry) doesn't want to panic the rakyat, but I prefer we know the truth well ahead in time so we can prepare ourselves well when the crunch comes.


  1. After 60 years of BN mis-management, and billions invested in irrigation systems (Muda, Kedah), annual pesticide and fertilizer subsidies, rice seed genomics improvement etc here is the painful yield data comparing Malaysia with Viet Nam.

    1961.....2.1 MT per Ha
    2014.....2.8 MT per Ha
    81 percentage improvement over 53 years

    1961....1.9 MT per Ha
    2014....5.8 MT per Ha
    200 pct improvement over 53 years

    Viet Nam overtook us, even though the country was racked with civil war in the 60s and 70s.

    We don't need any extra land to be self sufficient on rice. We just need to produce more rice per Ha. Just like Viet Nam.

    But over the years our rain catchment areas and irrigation system is inadequate, our fertilizer and pesticide subsidies racked with corruption and our rice hybrid development programme falling far behind world standards.

    To be self-sufficient the 35% increase is actually quite easy, just match the Viet Nam yield per Ha. No need to open more land to plant rice.

  2. 2 years n ph did nothing on bernas monopoly. good news indeed they get lost.