Mahfuz Emran: There has been a bumper production of rice in the country in the last few seasons. In the last (2022-23) financial year, rice production crossed the all-time record. Government warehouses also have record amount of food stock, import situation is also satisfactory. Bangladesh is somewhat relieved about the food situation amid various economic problems including the dollar crisis. But buyers are not getting that much relief. Despite having so much production and storage, the price of rice in the market is not decreasing, but increasing. Common people are in dire straits. As a result, the success of the government in the production of foodgrains is very faint to the common people.
The information of Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) says that the price of coarse rice has increased in the market last Thursday as well. With an increase of Tk 2 per kg, coarse rice is now being sold up to Tk 52.
But the market picture tells a different story. Rice is being sold in the market at a higher price than the TCB price. Coarse rice is now selling up to Tk 55 per kg in the retail market. For the past few months, the coarse rice market has been stuck in this increased price. Besides, one has to count from Tk 70 to Tk 85 to buy thin rice per kg. This price of rice is not comfortable for anyone starting from the lower class. As a result, the people are not directly getting the benefit of the bumper yield in the production of food grains in the country.
Government school teacher Enayetullah. This reporter of talked to him in Rampura Bazar. Enayetullah said, what is the benefit of the common buyer in so much production and stock? The price does not decrease, but increases. According to the information of the Ministry of Agriculture, about 49 million tons of rice have been produced in the recently concluded 2022-23 fiscal year in Bangladesh. Out of this, 2 crore 10 lakh tonnes have been produced in the last Boro season. This production is the highest in a century and a half.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Global Food Outlook report has predicted the continuation of rice production in Bangladesh. The latest report of the organization says that rice production is going to increase at the highest rate in the world in a year in Bangladesh. Compared to the outgoing year (2022-23), the production in the new year (2023-24) may increase by 1.8 percent. Besides, Bangladesh has retained the third position in total rice production after China and India.
According to the Ministry of Food, the amount of food grain stock in government warehouses is 19 lakh 46 thousand 409 tons. Among them, the stock of rice is 16 lakh 8 thousand 233 tons and paddy is 1 lakh 21 thousand 92 tons, which is more than last year.
The government is buying 16 lakh 50 thousand tons of paddy and rice from the domestic market during Boro season this year. In the meantime, 9 lakh 86 thousand 124 tons of paddy and rice have been collected. As compared to last year (2021-22), the purchase price of paddy is Tk 3 per kg and boiled rice is Tk 4 per kg, so the procurement process is going well. The paddy-rice collection drive started on May 7 and will continue till August 31. The Food Directorate expects to achieve 100% of the target within this period.
Director of Food Directorate Tapan Kumar Das told Daily Industry that in the current situation, the country’s production, collection and storage has reached a record. As a result, there is no reason to worry about rice. Rather we are in the most advantageous position. Amid various economic problems, Bangladesh is now at least somewhat relieved about the food situation.
After the record production, the government has also initiated the process of importing another five lakh tonnes of rice, which will arrive in the country soon. It will break the all-time record of the government’s stock situation. Two years ago, 26 lakh 50 thousand tons of rice had to be imported. But due to good production this year, the import volume of Bangladesh has decreased to eight lakh tons. It reduces import dependence, saving foreign currency.
Although according to the government, the annual demand of rice in the country is 3.5 million tons. If we review the supply data against this demand, there should be a surplus of one crore tons of rice. But the reality is different. If you go to buy in the market, the additional price, in this case the excuse of the crisis is an everyday matter.
In this regard, agricultural researcher and economist Jahangir Alam Khan told Daily Industry that the information provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Directorate of Agricultural Extension under it often does not match. Again the information provided by Bhog is inconsistent. Apart from human food, multi-purpose consumption (use) of rice is increasing. They are not coming in the statistics. Due to which there is a need to import rice in small crisis.
He also said that these things are never clear, the opportunities that businessmen take. The government is weak in controlling the market. As a result, consumers do not get the benefits of record production.
Layek Ali, the former general secretary of Rice Mill Owners Association, does not agree with the information given by the government about rice. He told Daily Industry that many times we (businessmen) have to import rice because there is a shortage in demand and supply. Where does the rice go if there is a surplus? In this high-priced market, no one keeps stock of rice for years. He questioned why traders import if the supply is sufficient.
Regarding the increased prices, Layek Ali said that the market of everything is now out of control. That effect is also in the price of rice. Traders will not want to sell rice at a low price by buying other daily commodities at a high price. If those who sell rice do not get the price, then how will their lives continue? As such, the price of rice can be said to be stable compared to other daily commodities.
He said, this year the price of paddy is under control. Actually there is no problem from farmer to mill, the problem is in the market. There is a huge difference in the price of rice in the retail market from the millgate price. We keep saying this, but no one is controlling the retail market.
ProfessorDr. Rashidul Hasan of Agricultural Business and Marketing Department of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University told Daily Industry that it is true that the production cost of rice has increased. As a result, it is normal that the price will increase slightly. However, if the price of rice does not increase in that way, the farmer has to bear the additional cost of the production cost. (Increasing production costs) did not affect millage or sales levels.
He said that the production cost of one kg of rice has increased by Tk 3 to around Tk 41 in Boro season. The production cost per kg of paddy has increased from Tk 28 to around Tk 31. That is, the production cost of paddy and rice has increased by 10 percent. However, there is a gap of Tk 12 to 15 per kg in reaching rice from the mill to the consumer level. It’s unusual. As a result both consumers and farmers are affected.
Dr. Rashidul Hasan also said that the government should take a strong role in controlling the market. Besides, farmers should reduce their additional cost by subsidizing them. Besides, the government should provide clear information about rice production, storage and import. Accurate information is now most important in controlling the market.
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