Rice prices soar further

Rice prices shot up further by Tk 10 per kg on an average in one month, hurting consumers, particularly the country’s poor and the low-income groups.
Rice prices steadily rose in last five months though the government imported the staple to keep the market stable.
Food officials told New Age that limited imports proved far too insufficient to offset the shortfall in rice production caused by massive floods.
Coarse rice prices increased rose to Tk58-Tk62 per kg from Tk 48-Tk52 in one month.
Prices of fine varieties rose to Tk 68-Tk 72 from Tk 58-Tk62.
Since August, devastating floods destroyed standing aman crop in the northern and northeastern districts while early rains in April and May also significantly destroyed the boro rice crop, said agriculture officials and economists.
The sharp rise in rice prices prompted commerce minister Tofail Ahmed to ask deputy commissioners to monitor and stabilize the rice market.
All the deputy commissioners and the divisional commissioners are under instructions to monitor the rice market to keep the prices within common people’s reach, food minister Qamrul Islam told New Age.
He said that planned bulk rice imports by the private sector would bring the prices down.
For the situation, agriculture economists, Jahangir Alam Khan and Golam Hafiz Kennedy blamed the government’s failure to import rice in sufficient quantities in due time.
They expressed fears that the nation was headed to a food crisis and urged the authorities to widen the food safety net for the marginalized farmers and the poor.
They said that the government took no steps for tackling the looming crisis as it could not foresee the consequences of damage and destruction suffered by standing boro and aman crops during the devastating floods.
Dr Jahangir Alam Khan, a former president of Bangladesh Agricultural Economists’ Association is a researcher on agriculture and rural economy.
He said that damage to standing rice crops done by floods created a deficit to the tune of 25 lakh tonnes.
According to the food department, the government has 4.5 lakh tonnes of rice in its stocks.
Golam Hafiz Kennedy, who teaches agricultural finance at Bangladesh Agriculture University blamed delayed rice imports for what he called a ‘crisis’.
Food minister Quamrul Islam, however, dismissed any possibility of the nation facing a food crisis.

Source: New Age

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