TAWAU, The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) has assured an adequate supply of rice in Sabah and Sarawak, ahead of the Kaamatan Festival and Gawai Day celebrations. Its Deputy Minister Datuk Arthur Joseph Kurup said the amount of stock available is sufficient to cover rice needs in both regions and peninsular Malaysia for up to five months. 'Based on the current status of the country's rice stock position, the total rice supply stock up to May 14, 2024, is 1,037,381 metric tonnes, covering 200,000 metric tonnes of government stockpile and 837,381 metric tonnes of trading stock. 'A total of 57,500 metric tonnes of the government's stockpiles are placed in Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas) warehouses in Sabah, while 33,000 metric tonnes are in Sarawak. The ministry has been instructed to monitor the supply of rice, at the wholesale and retail levels, to ensure that it is sufficient, in addition to being sold at a reasonable price,' he said in a statement today. Arthur also led an inspection visit to the rice stockpile here today, in line with the terms of the concession agreement between the government and Bernas to ensure that the national rice stockpile is always sufficient and in good condition. In the meantime, Arthur said that 111,478 metric tonnes of Imported White Rice (BPI) were supplied to the market in Sabah, with subsidy of RM23.75 million per month, in line with the federal government's efforts to provide a subsidy of RM950 per metric tonne on the BPI wholesale price from Oct 5 last year, to compensate supply and price of rice in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan. He added that the federal government also welcomed the efforts of the Sabah government in increasing the rice self-sufficiency ratio (SSR), in line with the theme of this year's Kaamatan Festival celebration, which is 'Kaamatan, Melangkaui Keterjaminan Makanan' (Kaamatan, Beyond Food Security). 'Among the initiatives which the federal government has implemented, to increase rice production in Sabah is raising the rate of the Ric e Price Subsidy Scheme (SSHP) from RM360 to RM500 nationwide, starting on Aug 9 last year. 'In addition to increasing the paddy floor price in Sabah and Sarawak, from RM900 to RM1,300 per metric tonne, effective Feb 15, 2024,' he said. The ministry will also implement the Ala Sekinchan SMART SBB Programme pilot project, in Kampung Kesapang Tengah, Kota Belud, covering an area of 27.81 hectares involving fifteen participants, and is expected to start in July this year, through the use of mechanisation and automation elements. 'Apart from that, MAFS also encourages the use of certified rice seed varieties to increase the yield of rice production. The collaboration also includes efforts to bring in seeds from the Peninsula, which are of good quality, resistant to diseases and have high yields,' he said. Source: BERNAMA News Agency