Malaysia buys rice from Thailand to ease shortage

Other News Materials 14 May 2008 07:45 (UTC +04:00)

Malaysia has bought 200,000 metric tons of rice from Thailand as part of efforts to increase the country's stockpile and reduce fears of a shortage, news reports said Wednesday.

The first 50,000 metric tons of rice is due to arrive within two weeks, said Agriculture Minister Mustapa Mohamed, dpa reported.

He said the government has also announced a 725 million ringgit (213.2 million dollars) subsidy to ease the burden of the people following the increase in the price of rice, the Star daily reported.

"The first 100,000 metric tons of rice from Thailand will be sold between 1.65 ringgit (0.48 cents) and 1.80 ringgit (53 cents) per kilogram," Mustafa said.

"With this price, we have to absorb big losses and subsidise imported rice for the first time, but we want to ensure the interest of low-income earners are protected," he said.

However, Mustapa declined to reveal how much was paid to Thailand for the rice.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced Monday measures to stabilise the price of rice, including controlling the price of local rice.

Malaysia produces up to 70 per cent of its own rice consumption.