KUALA LUMPUR – Rice production in the country has reached 72 per cent of the self-sufficiency level, still eight per cent short of the 80 per cent target.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the 80 per cent target sufficed as about 20 per cent of consumers did not opt for locally produced rice.
“It is quite normal for 10 to 15 per cent of consumers in countries where rice is the staple not opting for locally produced rice. Depending on their tastes, they might prefer Siamese rice, fragrant rice and others.
“So if the self-suffiency level is 100 per cent, where are we going to send the excess stocks?If we want to export to other countries, is our rice competitve enough tp compete in the international market?,” he told reporters after opening the National Padi Conference 2017 here today.
As such, he said that productivity in rice production must increase to meet the 80 per cent target, noting that production increased from 1.9 million tonnes in 1990 to 3.5 million tonnes last year.
Ahmad Shabery said Malaysia should also stress on products based on high quality rice, like beauty creams which held huge export potential.
The three-day conference aims to discuss ways to boost the padi and rice industry in the country,
At the event, Ahmad Shabery also launched a book on Standard Operating Procedures to reduce wastage of rice after harvest, especially during transportation, drying, miliing and storing.
On a separate matter, he said that his ministry was assessing losses sufferred by padi farmers in Kedah due to the latest round of flooding in the state.
“About 700 hectares of padi fields were affected. We will find a way to help the affected farmers based on an existing formula,” he said. – BERNAMA