The government has taken a move to import about 1 million tonnes of rice and wheat by December from four countries to avert any food shortage in the country amid global instability.
Sources said the government will import rice from India, Vietnam and Myanmar while wheat will be imported from Russia so that the country in no way face any food shortage.
Deals have already been signed to import rice and wheat, which will arrive in the country in several phases, starting anytime from September.
Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said the government took a move to procure rice from abroad considering the adverse weather and fearing less production of Aman paddy.
“Apart from these countries, we are now negotiating with other countries to import more rice fearing a fall in Aman paddy production due to less rainfall this season,” he said, adding that the imported goods would enter the country between September and December.
Although Bangladesh is the third-biggest rice producer in the world with 35 million tonnes a year, it depends on imports despite low consumption. The demand for rice is 23.33 million tonnes each year for 165.2 million people.
According to Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC), annual demand for wheat is nearly 7 million tonnes, of which 6 million tonnes are imported.
Price of rice had skyrocketed in the country in the last couple of months, but the price of rice slightly declined from the first week of September as the government reduced import duty and introduces Food Friendly Programme (FFP) and Open Market Sale (OMS) of rice across the country.
Though the price of rice increased by Tk 10 per kg in the last two months, it declined by Tk 5 per kg in the wake of different initiatives.
The price of coarse rice is 6.45 percent higher, medium rice is 2.86 percent higher and fine rice is 9.09 percent higher than the same period of the previous year, according to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).
Agro economist and researcher Dr Jahangir Alam Khan told the Daily Sun that lack of proper production and demand data, hoarding by traders and middlemen and market monitoring in the retail market are the main reasons for the hike of rice in the country.
“The government should itself import adequate rice and wheat in advance and release it to local market with competitive price to stabilise the market,” said the economist, adding that the ongoing drought may hamper Aman production this season.