Tuesday, 22 May, 2018

Rice prices go up further despite cut in duties

Published on: 9:16 am - Wednesday | September 13, 2017


Prices of rice have been rising despite various government measures, such as facilitating imports and  withdrawal of taxes and duties, to keep them in check. িRice traders say they do not see any prospect of an immediate fall in the prices of the grain. The traders are selling different varieties of rice within the range of Tk. 150–200 per bag of 50 kg, which is higher than the selling price last month.

Even the coarse varieties of rice, such as BR-28 and BR-29, mainly consumed by the poor, are now selling for Tk 50–52 a kg, which was sold between Tk 47 and Tk 49 last month.

Prices of Minicate and Nazirshail, consumed mostly by the middle class, have shot up by Tk. 3–4 per kg within a month.

Millers say a shortage of paddy in the market is responsible for the rise in rice prices across the country.

Earlier, the government decided to import 15 lakh tonnes of food grain to meet the country’s demand. Of them, 1.71 lakh tonnes of rice have already reached government warehouses and five lakh tonnes are said to be on their way.

According to food ministry sources, the country’s present food stock is 4.88 lakh tonnes, made up of 3.76 lakh tonnes of rice and 1.22 lakh tonnes of wheat. The sources say at least 10 lakh tonnes are needed as buffer at this moment.

“We’re selling various varieties of rice between Tk. 3 and Tk. 6 per kg—this is higher than the last month’s prices. Today’s Swarna variety of rice is being sold for Tk. 44–45 per kg, BR-28 and BR-29 for Tk. 50–52, Nazirshail for Tk. 60–62 and Minicate for Tk. 56–58. The prices were Tk. 3–6 lower last month,” Anwarul Alam, owner of Anwar Traders of the Mohammadpur Krishi Market.

Meanwhile, the private sector has already imported 5.21 lakh tonnes of rice in the current fiscal year and also opened L/Cs for another 17 lakh tonnes as of September 11, sources in the Directorate General of Food.

The private sector had imported 1.33 lakh tonnes of rice last year and 2.57 lakh tonnes in 2015, the sources said.

The government has decided to import rice from Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia under government-to-government management.

A Bangladesh team, led by food minister Qamrul Islam, was in Myanmar last week to import rice.

According to food ministry sources, a  Myanmar team will visit Bangladesh on September 16 to negotiate the export price of rice. The deal will be finalised during a meeting on September 17, the sources said.

The Myanmar authorities have agreed to initially give 1.20 lakh tonnes of rice under a G2G arrangement.

Myanmar has signed an MoU with Bangladesh and agreed to export three lakh tonnes of rice annually, added the sources.

The government has already opened an L/C to import 2.5 lakh tonnes of rice from Cambodia. Most of the 2.5 lakh tonnes of rice sought from Vietnam have reached Bangladesh, said sources in the Directorate General of Food.

The government was negotiating prices of rice with Thailand, and the Thai authorities were considering selling rice below USD 450 per tonne, said sources. They had earlier demanded USD 500 for per tonne of rice, they added.

“We don’t see any food crisis. We’re importing food grain through international and local tenders,” Badrul Hasan, director general of the Directorate of Food,  yesterday.

According to sources, the annual demand for food grain is about 3.10 crore tonnes. There was a shortage of 20 lakh tonnes of rice in the last season due to floods and flash floods in the ‘haors’ and other parts of the country.

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