The implementation of the ‘Op Beras Putih Tempatan’ (Op BPT) by the government to combat irregularities in the sale of rice by changing the packaging or label of local white rice (BPT) to imported white rice (BPI), is seen as protecting the people from being cheated.

Describing the move as a double-edged strategy, farmers and rice growers’ associations in the state, at the same time, also viewed the government’s good move as protection of their welfare, from being cheated by wholesalers.

Pertubuhan Persaudaraan Pesawah Malaysia (PeSawah) executive council member Abdul Rashid Yob said the issue of fraud related to local rice wholesalers who repackaged BPT as BPI and sold it at the BPI retail price has been going on for a long time.

“If the issues are not disclosed on any social media site, no action will be taken and this may cause consumers to continue to be deceived and also have an impact on the farmers.

“This mixing of BPT and BPI rice activities has been carried out by irresponsible parties for a long time... but only recently, when there has been an increase in global rice prices, imports have decreased and that has caused this irresponsible activity to become more common,” he told Bernama, here today.

At the same time, he also urged that the frequency of enforcement operations be doubled so that the issue can be dealt with thoroughly, thereby benefiting all parties.

Regarding the BPT ceiling price, he proposed that it be revised considering the increase in global rice prices as well as the costs involved which affect all levels of the supply chain.

“In addition, there should be an ideal price of BPT and BPI, to provide a win-win situation for all parties,” he said, adding that the current ceiling price of BPT is RM2.60 per kilogramme.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Hafidz Ismail, 39, from Kampung Teluk Tawar in Yan, who has been cultivating paddy for the past 12 years, said enforcement officers also need to carry out inspections at shop premises and the country's entry points to combat fraud.

“With the implementation of this operation, the results and profits will return to the people and also the farmers. Hence, if there is a leakage anywhere, action needs to be taken immediately,” he said.

Ahmad Bakar, 71, from Alor Setar, who has been cultivating paddy for over 30 years, said such an operation would surely help the people, including in Kedah, where most of them work as farmers.

“Kedah is the country's main rice producer, if this fraud issue is not curbed from now on, we are worried that the younger generation will refuse to continue cultivating this crop.

“This issue may make them think that they are just wasting their time because, at the end of the day, they are cheated and don’t get any protection for their hard work. This is worrying,” he said.

Launched on Aug 16, OP BPT focuses on inspecting and enforcing regulations on commercial rice mills and rice wholesalers to ensure that the entire supply chain of rice distribution at all levels complies with existing regulations and legislation.

Law enforcement related to rice and rice is carried out by Padi and Rice Regulatory Division (KPB) under the Control of Padi and Rice Act 1994 (Act 522) and legal action will be taken against parties found guilty of making false statements about rice grades under Section 21 of Act 522.

Perpetrators can be fined up to RM25,000 or jailed not exceeding two years or both, while companies can be fined up to RM50,000, upon conviction.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency