According to research, five parties are involved in the rice trade market. First, the farmer himself, secondly the middlemen, thirdly, the stockists, fourthly, the rice mill owners and fifthly, the rice retailers. Out of this the middlemen get the least share, 50 to 65 paisa per kg of paddy. Stockists make a profit of up to Tk 1.75 per kg. Their expenses include rent of shops and warehouses, electricity bills and wages of workers.
According to BRI director general Shahjahan Kabir, the price is increasing rapidly mainly due to the owners of rice mills. As a result, rice mill owners should account for how much they are buying paddy, how they are processing it into rice and how much profit they are making on the paddy and its by-products. And the food ministry should take initiatives to reduce the mill gate price of rice through discussions with rice mill owners. Kazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Chairman of Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation, said rice mill owners have established control over the rice market through financial, social and political power.
The question is whether the food ministry will do that. Whenever the price of rice soared in the past, the government has completed its duty by raiding a couple of markets and retrieving some stockpiles of rice. But no effective action was taken against the malpractice of the mill owners.
Earlier we heard about syndicates in edible oil, onion and sugar markets. Government policy makers have also spoke of it. Now it appears that there is a big syndicate in the rice market. The rice mill owners created a situation by increasing the price, in which the government was forced to import. When the decision of importing rice was made again, they took advantage of that opportunity.
Government ministers and secretaries sometimes raise a loud voice against rice mill owners for manipulating the rice market. But these rice millers probably know which gods to appease with what offerings. They befriend whoever in the power and take unfair advantage. Rice mill owners can definitely make profits, but incurring Tk 8 to 14 per kg of rice is absolutely unwarranted.
To stop the anarchy of the rice market, more specifically, to stop the arbitrariness of the rice mill owners, the government needs to take two pronged steps. Firstly, the authorities must conduct strict and intensive monitoring so that no one can make unfair profit. Second, stocking and distribution of rice under government management. A large portion of rice is distributed under government management in neighboring India. As a result, no mill owner or trader there can make so much profit on per kg of rice.