Rice price is skyrocketing during the peak harvesting season due to alleged market manipulation by a section of large millers, wholesalers and businessmen in apprehension of further food price hike caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.
Bangladesh is already feeling the heat of the Russia-Ukraine war as commodity prices have increased manifold. The price hike of rice is creating another crisis in the food market.
“Businessmen and millers purchased a huge volume of paddy from farmers but reduced the supply in the market. There is a problem in the supply chain and if the government does not supervise, rice price will increase further,” he said.
The price of fine quality rice has increased by Tk 2-3 a kg in the last three days while it has increased by Tk 5-6 per kg in the last seven days at the wholesale level.
Rice prices have increased by Tk 6.00-8.00 a kg in the retail market in Dhaka in the last one and a half weeks.
Fine quality rice price increased by 1.59 percent in a week and was selling at Tk 58-70 per kg, medium-quality rice price soared by 3.92 percent in a week and was selling at Tk 50-56 per kg and corse rice price increased by 5.38 percent in a week and was selling at Tk 48-50 per kg, according to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).
Rice is the main staple food of the country while the boro season fulfils 54 percent of the country's total rice demand.
Harvesting of 94.44 percent of boro has been completed while the ministry projected 271,958 tonnes more production in this season after reducing 79,629 tonnes losses by natural calamity.
The country's annual consumption requirement of rice is 35 million tonnes. In the FY 2021-22, the rice production will hit 40.62 million tonnes, according to the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
“Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has instructed those concerned to take immediate steps for curbing the high price of rice during the ongoing Boro season. The prime minister also directed to take action if anyone stocks rice illegally,” said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam on Monday.
“The Cabinet has urged for immediate action after a market overview and find out who is stockpiling rice,” said Khandker Anwarul.
Dr. Jiban Krishna Biswas, executive director of Krishi Gobeshona Foundation (KGF) & former DG of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), told the Daily Sun that there is no crisis of rice in the country due to a surplus in rice production.
He said illegal hoarding can create an artificial crisis in the market that could be eliminated by monitoring.
Nirod Baran Saha Chandan, president of the Naogaon Paddy and Rice Wholesale Traders' Association said, “Many non-millers’ businessmen are hoarding paddy illegally, sensing that that Russia-Ukraine war may trigger a food crisis. Various corporate houses are buying and packaging rice and selling those in the market at higher prices.”
“The rice supply chain has been hampered as traders did not buy rice earlier and waited for the fall in price during the harvesting time. But the traders have made large orders of rice at a time, which created a crisis. The crisis will be ended within 7-8 days,” he said, adding that they have some 7-8 days pending order of rice.
The price of a 50 kg fine quality rice sack was selling at Tk 3,000-3,100 a week earlier but the price soared to Tk 3,300 to 3,500 per sack now, he said.
The wholesale price of fine quality miniket was Tk 3,300-3,500 per sack (50 kg) and Shampa Katari was Tk 3,500-3,700 per sack (50 kg) on Monday at Naogaon, said the millers.
Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder on Sunday said there is unhealthy competition among traders to buy and hoard paddy.
He warned that stern action will be taken against those who will try to unstable the rice market.