Countries in the Southeast Asian region have agreed to cooperate and prioritize assistance to address the problem of limited rice supplies and other food security issues.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Mohamad Sabu revealed that this agreement was reached during the 45th ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) meeting in Kuala Lumpur this week, which was held from October 2 to 7.
He also revealed that Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand have agreed to consider new requests for additional imports.
Malaysia alone relies on imports for about 38% of its rice needs and is among the countries affected by shipping restrictions imposed by major exporters such as India. In response to rising wheat prices and to ensure adequate supply in the market, the Malaysian government announced several measures, including subsidies.
In addition, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has warned that legal action may be taken against anyone found hoarding rice, in an effort to discourage the hoarding of local grains by consumers.
Moreover, the ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) meeting itself serves as a vehicle for cooperation among ASEAN countries in the fields of food, agriculture, and forestry to achieve food security.
Malaysia, which is hosting this year's AMAF, aims to strengthen ASEAN's position as one of the world's major food suppliers, while encouraging closer cooperation among member countries to maintain food security in the region.
The 45th ASEAN Agriculture and Forestry Ministers' Meeting was attended by ASEAN member countries such as Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam, as well as several partner countries such as China, Japan and South Korea.