Sale of rice should be increased in open market

Food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder has warned the mill owners and wholesalers and asked them to help keep the price of rice stable. He urged them not to force the government to import rice.

The minister held a virtual meeting with the mill owners and wholesalers on Monday in the wake of the spike in the price of rice. The minister observed that the mill owners and wholesaler are manipulating the rice price.

The minister also asked the food officials at field level to provide information about illegal stocks of rice and paddy by 7 January. However, there is doubt as to how effective this directive would be. If the drive is carried out after announcing the date in advance, it is more likely that it will be unsuccessful.

According to a report of Prothom Alo, the price of rice has increased by Tk 3 per kg in recent times. In the first week of September, the retail price of coarse rice increased by Tk 2 per kg to Tk 46. Visiting the Mohammadpur Krishi Market and wholesale market of Babubazar-Badamtali area in the capital last Thursday, it was seen that the coarse and BR-28 rice was being sold at Tk 42 and Tk 48 per kg respectively in the wholesale market. Per kg Nazirshail rice was being sold at Tk 66. But the price of minicate rice has increased the most. Its price has increased by Tk 4 and is now being sold at Tk 60 per kg.

If there is enough stock of rice in the country, as claimed by the minister, then why is the price of rice is rising steadily? The traders and the wholesalers always try to find excuses to increase the price of rice. There was no exception this time either. This year, they claimed that some rice was ruined as it got wet in the field due to the untimely rain in the first week of December. Besides, harvesting was delayed due to the inundation. But what is the amount of that? Price of all types of rice has increased.

The minister has said the price of rice increases as the mill owners and wholesalers stockpile the rice and release them in the market at the last moment.

Why is the government not taking any legal action if it already knows this? Only threatening or warning is not enough. Those who are involved in the manipulation of market price should be brought to book.

According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the price of fine rice has increased by more than 1.5 per cent within just a month. The price of medium quality and coarse rice has increased by nearly 3 and 3.26 per cent respectively.

Not only rice, the price of almost all types of imported products including lentils, flour, oil has increased on the excuse of international market price. This pandemic has reduced the incomes of a lot of people. On the contrary, the price of daily commodities is on the rise.

In this context, the government should increase the sale of rice in the open market and this should not be confined to the cities only. It should spread up to the upazila level. This will provide the poor and low income people a bit of relief.

The excuse of the international market price is simply not applicable in the case of rice. Rice in Bangladesh is already pricier than India, Thailand and Vietnam.