ASEAN nations to prioritise members’ rice needs

2023 10 07T032024Z 1 LYNXMPEJ9600F RTROPTP 4 ASEAN RICE MALAYSIA scaled
FILE PHOTO: Farmers harvest rice in a field in Chainat province, Thailand, August 31, 2023. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

Southeast Asian countries have agreed to prioritise helping each other overcome rice supply shortages and other food-related problems, Malaysia state news agency Bernama reported, citing the agricultural minister.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reached the agreement at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur this week, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Mohamad Sabu said on Friday, according to the agency.

“ASEAN collaboration means if we face rice issues, ASEAN member countries will give priority to ASEAN nations first,” he said.

Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand said they would consider any new requests for additional imports, Mohamad said.

Malaysia, which imports about 38% of its rice needs, is among several countries affected by top exporters like India restricting shipments. The government on Monday announced subsidies and other measures to offset rising prices of grain and ensure sufficient supply in the market.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim warned of legal action against anyone found hoarding rice, to prevent consumers from stockpiling local grains.

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