COVID-19: Malaysia has rice stocks for 2.5 months as Vietnam curbs exports

COVID-19: Malaysia has rice stocks for 2.5 months as Vietnam curbs exports

Rice is seen on sale at a supermarket in Penang
Sacks of rice are seen at a supermarket in Penang on Mar 17, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Goh Chai Hin)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has enough rice to last two and a half months, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry told Reuters on Friday (Mar 27), 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 Mar 28 to ensure sufficient domestic supplies, raising concerns about global food security. 

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Malaysia, a net rice importer, said its food supply was sufficient as it entered the second week of a one-month restricted movement order, including closing borders and requiring non-essential businesses to shut, in a bid to stop the virus. 

The country has 500,000 tonnes of rice stocks and consumes 200,000 tonnes a month, according to data from the Agriculture and Food Industries Ministry provided to Reuters. 

"Bernas acted early to secure rice export contracts until May 2020 from Vietnam even though it was at a high price," the ministry said, referring to the national rice agency. 

"Our next step is to also purchase rice from other countries including Pakistan, India, Myanmar and Thailand,” it said. 

Malaysia, the 22nd largest rice consumer in the world, farms its own rice but also imports 30 per cent to 40 per cent of its requirement to feed its population of 32.6 million. 

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in Malaysia has doubled this week to more than 2,000, the highest in Southeast Asia, with 24 deaths. 

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Below are food stocks in Malaysia as of Mar 25, according to the ministry: 

  • Rice stockpile: 500,000 tonnes (consumption: 200,000 tonnes a month)
  • Chicken stockpile: 59,000,000 chickens (consumption: 43,000,000 chickens a month)
  • Eggs stockpile: 800,000,000 eggs (consumption: 620,000,000 eggs a month)
  • Meat stockpile: 25,000 tonnes (consumption: Enough to meet current needs)
  • Fish stockpile: 150,000 tonnes (consumption: Enough to meet current needs)

The stockpile amounts for vegetables (consumption of about 235,680 tonnes a month), fruits (consumption of about 128,280 tonnes a month) and fresh milk (consumption of 5,100,000 litres a month) were not stated. 

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Source: Reuters/zl

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