The price of rice per kilogram increased by Tk 3-5 at the end of May in comparison with the beginning of the month. Prices of all varieties of rice have increased within just three weeks. Not in Bangladesh only, this trend of price hikes is global. The prices of commodities rose in many countries after the Ukraine war broke out.
The government, however, claimed the rice stock is adequate in the country and the stock in the government’s warehouse is satisfactory. A war of words is going on regarding price hikes. The food minister and commerce minister have been blaming businessmen while the traders put the blame on the international market.
In fact, powerful quarters control the market price taking advantage of weak market management. Alongside mill owners and stockers, some big businessmen are also to blame for hoarding.
It is assumed that some big companies manipulate the rice market but the government either cannot or do not take steps against them. The government must maintain strict surveillance of the market to keep the prices steady. Market management mechanism should be improved and the government’s effective steps are necessary in this end.
The selling of rice at a lower price in the open market should be ensured so that lower-income people can buy rice. The government is now selling rice at a lower cost to 6.25 million families in rural areas. This initiative should be increased. But the price has already been increased to Tk 15 from Tk 10. Such initiative should be taken for the poor people living in cities.
A total of 1.2 tonnes of rice is stocked in the government warehouses. Rice is also adequate in the market. This is soothing news. But the government must keep in mind that the stock may decrease with an increase in demand and so, the authorities must think of increasing the stock. The government can even import rice so that the unscrupulous people cannot take advantage of the situation.
The authorities concerned should immediately sit with experts and set a plan of action. It is also imperative to sit with businessmen. There should be coordination among the ministries involved in ensuring food security. Instead of taking a desultory solution, a long term solution is needed.