Agricultural expert scoffs at idea of replacing rice with tapioca

It’s proof of the government’s failure to tackle the rice supply crisis, says a former government adviser on agriculture.

(MalaysiaNow) – An agricultural expert has dismissed the proposal to produce tapioca as an alternative to rice to overcome the current rice supply problem, saying it only proves the failure of the authorities.

Prof Fatimah Arshad, a former member of the National Agricultural Advisory Council, said the rice supply problem must be solved first.

“It’s not that there is no rice in Malaysia, but it is hidden and mixed (with imported rice) so that the manufacturers can make a big profit. So while they are raking in profits, people are supposed to eat tapioca?” she told MalaysiaNow.

Former PKR MP and Dewan Rakyat speaker Johari Abdul was recently heavily criticised for proposing to introduce tapioca, a starch derived from the cassava root, as an alternative to rice as a staple food.

Johari said that tapioca is not only rich in carbohydrates, but also healthier due to its low sugar content.

His proposal was followed by a flood of condemnation on social media in the form of sarcastic comments and memes.

Fatimah Arshad
Fatimah Arshad

Fatimah said that tapioca has a higher glycaemic index compared to rice.

The glycaemic index ranks carbohydrate-containing foods to show how quickly each food affects blood sugar levels when eaten on its own.

In addition, Fatimah says, tapioca also has side effects such as bloating.

A popular health advocacy Facebook page, Public Health Malaysia, explained that while tapioca is useful for strengthening bones and teeth, excessive consumption can lead to weight gain and the risk of cyanide poisoning.

Read more here