Minister says fake news over rice supply led to panic buying

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Fake news over a purported shortage of local rice led to panic buying, the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry said.

Nazir Sufari/TMI

Minister Mohamad Sabu said there was also a shift from purchases of imported rice to local rice, after the spike in prices due to India halting its rice exports.

“The situation had led to consumers ‘raiding’ supermarkets and sundry shops to buy more local rice than usual, ‘changing their tastes’ after the price of imported rice rose to between RM37 and RM40 per kg from the previous range of RM32 to RM34,” Mohamad said at a Barisan Nasional ceramah last night in Pelangai.

“People in Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam all used to eat imported rice because local rice cost RM26 and imported rice cost RM32 to RM34. They said it was not that much more expensive and the imported rice was good.”

He said when the price of imported rice spiked from RM37 to RM40, consumers switched to local rice and people started spreading rumours in videos that there would be no more rice in the coming months.

“So, people then went on ‘raids’, buying three packs of rice when previously, they only bought one. When someone buys three packs, they take two from other people. Those who always bought two packs then bought four.”

The Amanah president told the audience about a woman in Pokok Sena, Kedah, who bought two packs of rice sold by the Farmers’ Organisation Authority and put them in her car boot.

“Then she came back and bought two more. I asked her how many children she had, and she said two. How many packs did they consume a month? She said not even one.

“Why did she buy four? She said ‘they’ (people) were saying there would be no rice next month.”

Mohamad advised the public to only buy the rice they needed and assured them that the government would look for solutions to the present situation.

Admitting that things were “chaotic” at the moment, he said the situation was recovering following the implementation of several short-term measures.

“Tomorrow, we will discuss matters with the prime minister. If everything is agreed upon, we will ask government institutions such as hospitals, military camps and so on to buy local rice.

“After that, supply will return to normal. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll look for another way, because that is a short-term measure,” Mohamad added. – TMI