We are selling coarse rice at Tk 42 per kg in wholesale. The government should find out how the same rice is selling at 50 to 52 per kg in the market
The international rice market is also going through a similar situation. The food grain’s price dropped to a significant extent in four key exporting countries – India, Thailand, Pakistan and Vietnam. Meanwhile, Russia and Ukraine registered a more significant drop in wheat price than rice.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, in its food price indices, also endorsed the decline in rice and wheat prices throughout the last two months.
Still, there is no sign of price fall in the local market, rather the flour price soared by 3.5 per cent last month while the price of coarse rice remained static.
In its latest food situation report this month, the food ministry noted the decline in rice and wheat prices in major exporting countries. According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the rice price is not coming down in the country while the wheat price is rising instead.
M Asaduzzaman, former research director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), said the impact of high prices can easily be apprehended seeing the queues before the trucks of TCB’s open market sale (OMS) scheme.
“Since dawn, hundreds of people line up there for hours to buy rice at a lower price. It means these poor people cannot afford to buy rice from the market,” he added.
We have seen in our study that the millers are making profits by hiking the price excessively
Shahjahan Kabir, director general of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), said the government procured rice from the millers at the rate of Tk 42 per kg within the stipulated time. The same millers are providing rice to the market, so why is the price of coarse rice Tk 48 to 52 per kg now?
“We have seen in our study that the millers are making profits by hiking the price excessively,” he added.
Asked about the issue, the president of Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mills Owners Association, Abdur Rashid, said, “We are selling coarse rice at Tk 42 per kg in wholesale. The government should find out how the same rice is selling at 50 to 52 per kg in the market.”
He also said the retail market might be impacted by the government importing rice from abroad at Tk 47 per kg.
Good stock of rice
According to the food ministry, the government had set a target of buying 500,000 tonnes of rice and 300,000 tonnes of paddy during the Aman season. The rice procurement target has nearly been achieved and the government now has a total of 1900,000 tonnes of rice and wheat in its warehouses.
Food secretary Ismail Hossain said, “We have plenty of rice in our warehouses and are not importing any more rice under the government arrangement for the time being.”
Referring to the high price of rice despite good production and stock, the secretary assured of taking action against the perpetrators after looking into the issue.
Golam Rahman, president of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), blamed an unscrupulous group of traders for the situation and said they purchase paddy from farmers at a low price and charge the customers extra while selling it.
The government agencies have also found the same in their investigations, but are taking no action in this regard, he said, describing the bureaucratic foot-dragging as blatant injustice to the poor.