Producing rice vital for securing supply chain

National

Growing and manufacturing local rice is not about replacing imports, rather having secure supply chains to provide sufficient food, says PNG Manufacturers Council chief executive  Chey Scovell.
Responding to a government call to cut back  on rice imports and start growing and manufacturing rice locally, Scovell said if there was an event that significantly altered trade in food, especially rice, in countries like Singapore or Hong Kong, those two countries would be in trouble and the same would apply to PNG.
“I would guess that at any one time if all trade was to stop, these countries would not have sufficient food for their people for maybe one or two weeks,” Scovell said.
“Rice is a global commodity. Grains, be they rice, wheat etc, are sold on global markets.
“There are different sorts of rice, short, medium and long grain. Of course, there are consumer preferences.”
Scovell said in PNG the preference was long grain.  “So if you did a comparison, you would need to look at long grain rice and not short and medium.
Scovell said Thailand and Vietnam also produced and exported a lot of long grain rice.
“The global market for rice is like coffee.  It is graded into quality so the bulk of the rice imported from all our main suppliers is between five to eight per cent broken rice. This means five to eight per cent of the rice will be a broken grain.”
“From observation, there are many pressures being placed on our leaders and officials to be self-sufficient in terms of rice production.  I am troubled by the focus and potential diversion of significant resources to achieve a goal on being self-sufficient, or even a goal to grow five per cent of our own rice.
“According to research, some countries put controls on exports of rice.  This is about food security, however, in PNG rice has become a staple food, so a rice shortage which had happened in the past, will continue from time to time.”

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