The government has procured 78,050 tonnes of Aman rice, only 9.75 per cent of the target to buy some 8 lakh tonnes of the staple during the season, affecting the national foodgrain stock.
The Food Planning and Monitoring Committee (FPMC) had set a target to procure a total of 6 lakh tonnes of boiled rice, 50,000 tonnes of non-boiled rice and 2 lakh tonnes of paddy during the Aman season.However, the Directorate General of Food has procured 65,586 tonnes of boiled rice, 4,664 tonnes of non-boiled rice and 11,798 tonnes of paddy during the procurement period from November 7 last to March 3, which is 78,050 tonnes in the form of rice, according to the Ministry of Food.
Meanwhile, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder earlier said the government has taken steps to import adequate amount of rice from abroad to boost the foodgrain stock.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food Ministry at a meeting on Thursday recommended that measures be taken for boosting the domestic rice production reducing the dependency on import.
The government’s foodgrain stock has declined due to lower procurement from the domestic market, pushing the price of rice up in the country.
There was a stock of 6.36 lakh tonnes of foodgrains -- 5.33 lakh tonnes of rice and 1.03 lakh tonnes of wheat -- in the country as of March 3, according to the Ministry of Food.
The stock was 7.55 lakh tonnes, including 5.45 lakh tonnes of rice and 2.10 lakh tonnes of wheat, as of December 17 last.However, the foodgrain stock was as high as 13.89 lakh tonnes -- 10.55 lakh tonnes of rice and 3.33 lakh tonnes of wheat -- till December 17, 2019.
The lower procurement of rice from the domestic market during the Boro and Aman seasons is one of the reasons behind the falling stock, said agro experts.
Ghulam Rahman, chairman of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB), said rice millers and traders are the main actor behind the volatility of the country’s rice market. “When they see that the government’s foodgrain stock declines, they hike the prices of rice with a slower supply.”
The government should procure domestic foodgrains directly from farmers instead of rice millers, he said, adding that it will help farmers get fair prices instead of giving the rice mill owners any scope to make quick bucks.
Over dependency on rice millers to procure the staple from the domestic market is the reason behind the lower procurement, Ghulam Rahman added.
Earlier, rice millers promised to provide 139,960 tonnes of rice against the target of 6.5 lakh tonnes. But, the Directorate General of Food has procured only 57,895 tonnes of boiled rice and 3,563 tonnes of non-boiled rice from rice millers.
Millers are reluctant to sell rice to the government amid a volatile market, forcing the government to go for rice import from international markets to meet the demand.
Meanwhile, prices of fine, medium and coarse rice have increased by 2.46, 1.89 and 3.26 per cent respectively in the capital in the last one week, according to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).
Fine rice price was Tk 60-65 per k fog Friday while it was Tk 58-64 per kg a week earlier, medium quality rice was Tk 50-58 per kg while it was Tk 50-56 per kg a week earlier and coarse rice price was Tk 45-50 per while it was Tk 44-48 per kg a week earlier, according to TCB.