Old Mac/ Agro CEO Liaquat Ali at his warehouse in Mc Bean, Couva, on Monday.

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.

Ali said, “There is no shortage of rice, because of panic buying it is creating a shortage of rice. 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 foreign exchange to pay for the rice.”

Ali said he got a call from Republic Bank and informed them of his foreign exchange needs. Ali said citizens in this country consume between 36,000 to 40,000 tonnes of rice annually. He said T&T imports 99.9 per cent of all its rice with 90 per cent coming from Guyana and the rest from Brazil and Asia.

Ali said rice can last a year in the package.

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

Ali said, “I am appealing to the consumer to buy within reason.”