Liaquat Ali is urging the public to avoid panic buying to prevent shortages occurring.

A local rice importer is urging members of the public to stop panic buying.

Liaquat Ali, the CEO of Trinidad Parboil/Old Mac Agro, said despite a shortage of foreign exchange, there is enough rice in T&T and supplies would be coming in. 

He spoke with Guardian Media on Monday at the operation’s Mc Bean Couva warehouse and distribution centre.

“There is no shortage of rice,” he assured. “The panic buying is creating a shortage of rice. I am appealing to the consumer to buy within reason.”

He added: “The problem is accessing the foreign exchange for the product. Right now I have bills to pay that were received in December. We are getting goods available; we need the foreign exchange to pay for the rice.” 

Ali said he got a call from Republic Bank and informed them of his foreign exchange needs. 

He told Guardian Media that T&T consumes  between 36,000 to 40,000 tonnes of rice annually; that figure represents 99.9 percent of imported rice, with 90 percent coming from Guyana and the rest from Brazil and Asia.

He said despite the challenges in Guyana, supplies have been coming from that country after the general elections there. 

Ali also reminds citizens that rice can last up to a year in the package.