Usually rice prices drop quite low at the beginning of the Boro season, bringing comfort to the people. Almost 55 per cent of the country’s total rice is produced in the Boro season alone.
This ample supply reduces the price. This time the picture is totally opposite. When the price was supposed to decrease with the arrival of new rice in the market, supply is short and the price keeps soaring.
Food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder during a meeting in Sunamganj on Sunday said, “As the elections are ahead, the government won’t allow the price of rice to soar.” But in reality, what is happening in the market is just the opposite.
Talking to concerned people, it was found that this time the early arrival of water in the haors damaged some paddy in the beginning of the Boro season. Besides, extensive rainfall across the country due to cyclone ‘Ashani’ also caused damage to the ripened crop.
Meanwhile, wheat prices are increasing due to Russia, Ukraine and India halt export of the grain to the global market. This has affected the markets in Bangladesh as well. Even the price of rice is slightly higher than normal in the global market.
In all, the current situation is such that, traders are scouring for opportunities to reap a good profit in near future by buying and storing rice and paddy now. There are less scopes of importing rice from abroad, for there is a high rate of tax imposed on that. So, the competition is less as well.
In this situation, many traders, rice-mill owners and large-scale farmers are investing in buying rice, which is causing the price to go up by creating a shortage in the market.
Food secretary Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum also believes there are no reasons for rice price going up at the moment. She told Prothom Alo, there is enough rice stored at government warehouses. There is no fear of a rice crisis in the private sector either.
“It will be investigated whether traders have raised the price of rice seeing food prices going up across the globe,” she added.
According to agriculture ministry’s statistics, 62 per cent of the Boro paddy has been harvested already. If that paddy is converted into rice, it means 12.5 million tonnes of rice in the hands of farmers and traders.
Early arrival of water in the haors along with extensive rainfall has ruined 80 thousand tonnes of rice. Even then, there is a possibility of 27 million tonnes of Boro rice being produced this time.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s report on global food grain production of this week says an additional 150 thousand tonnes of rice will be produced in Bangladesh this year, in comparison to last year. In all, 36 million tonnes of rice is supposed to be produced in the current fiscal year.
Agriculture ministry Abdur Razzaque told Prothom Alo, some paddy was damaged in the haors this year. However, the overall cultivation has crossed the targeted amount.
So, there are no risks of a rice crisis this year. The prices are not supposed to increase at the moment either for there is enough rice reserved in the country, he added.
Market price rising
Rice prices were found to be going up after exploring the retail and wholesale markets of Dhaka, wholesale markets of Kushtia and Naogaon along with markets of Chattogram on Monday.
Traders say, on average rice prices have increased by Tk 1 to 2 per kg in the retail markets of Dhaka, whereas in the wholesale markets it rose up by Tk 2 to 5. The increase rate was Tk 2 to 4 in the wholesale markets of Naogao and Tk 2 to 3 per kg in the rice mills of Kushtia.
At the retail shops of Dhaka, coarse rice was seen selling at Tk 45 to 48, medium rice at Tk 50 and fine rice at Tk 60 to 70. In some shops, fine Nazirshail rice was selling at Tk 80 as well.
Wholesalers of capital’s Mohammadpur Krishi Market said price of coarse rice has gone up by Tk 2 per Kg while the price of fine rice has increased by Tk 4 to 5. They said that mill owners are not supplying rice as per the demand.
Monirul Islam, general secretary of the traders’ association of Mohammadpur wholesale market for government agricultural product said to Prothom Alo, rice mill owners have raised the price of rice as the paddy prices are up. Prices of the fine rice have increased the most with an increase of Tk 6 to 7 per Kg in some cases.
He further said, 12 days ago he had ordered 300 sacks (15,000 kg) of rice and paid the price in advance. But, he has not received that rice yet.
There is a retail market right by Mohammadpur wholesale market. In a shop named Messer's Naogaon Rice Agency there, a kg of thick rice was selling at around Tk 46, medium rice at Tk 53 to 55 and Miniket rice at Tk 68 on Monday. Besides, Nazirshail rice was selling at Tk 82 per Kg there.
Owner of the shop Md Kamruzzaman informed Prothom Alo that every year after the Boro season begins, prices of rice goes down by Tk 350 to 400 per sack (50 kg). But, this time, the opposite happened. The price per sack has gone up by Tk 150 to 200.
New rice is arriving at the wholesale markets and is selling at a comparatively lower price than old rice. However, traders say the price of new rice is also much higher than that of the previous years.
Md Hossain Rana, owner of New Zia Rice Agency of the wholesale rice market at Mirpur-1 section, said to Prothom Alo on Monday the price of new rice is also higher this year.
Chattogram, Naogaon and Kushtia
The price of rice in the large markets of Chattogram was already high. Traders claimed, price of almost all types of rice increased by Tk 2 to 5 per kg after Eid. This was found after visiting markets in Bahaddarhat, Karnafuly Complex and Chawkbazar areas of the city on Monday.
Omar Azam, general secretary of Chattogram Rice Traders’ association said to Prothom Alo on the issue of price hike, Haors were flooded ruining the crops. For this the price of paddy has gone up, which in turn increased the price of rice.
In Naogaon, a major wholesale rice market of the country, the price of rice rose by Tk 200 to 250 per sack (50 kg) within just one week. Traders say the price of rice is going up naturally due to the hike in paddy price.
When asked about the reasons behind the sudden price hike of rice, Farhad Hossain Chokder, general secretary of Naogaon district rice mill owners’ association said, traders are competing among themselves to buy more paddies, fearing less production. For this the price of rice is going up.
Naturally, the price has increased a bit. Once the Boro paddy starts coming in bulks, the prices might drop again, he added.
In Khazanagar of Kushtia Sadar upazila, per kg of Miniket rice sold at Tk 59 to 60 on Monday, which is higher in comparison to before.
Joinal Abedin Pradhan, general secretary of the Kushtia unit of Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners’ Association said to Prothom Alo that they are receiving plenty of orders.
But they are unable to produce the amount of rice according to the demand. Mill owners keep busy in supplying rice to the government. Even the price of paddy is also upward, he added.
The price of rice was already high in country’s market. Prices of almost all products including flour, edible oil, lentils, onion, garlic, soap and toothpaste are on the rise as well. In this situation, further hike in rice price will create a crisis for common people, believe concerned people.
[Staff correspondents of Chattogram, Kushtia and Naogaon helped with information in creating this report]
*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Nourin Ahmed Monisha