Fears of conservation capacity
Mahfuja Mukul: Rice stocks have increased almost thrice at the government level in the countrycompared to last year. Although the distribution of government rice in the field is normal at present, the boro season is approaching. Besides rice, stocks of wheat have also increased. At present, the official stock of food grains including rice and wheat (as of March 23) is more than 1.7 million tons. At this time last year, the stock was only around one and a half million tons.
Concerned sources say that the food department may be in trouble with the food collected this year due to the increase in stocks. However, the food ministry says there is no problem with increasing rice stocks. Although there is no chance of wastage due to modernization of rice storage, various steps have been taken to increase the field level distribution including OMS.
Secretary of the Ministry of Food Nazmanara Khanum told that this time our stock has increased a lot as compared to other years. We basically put more emphasis on internal collection. This year rice import is less. The food department’s guardian said there was no concern over the increase in rice stocks, adding that there was concern last year when stocks were low. No worries now that the stock is high.
Regarding the plan to reduce high stocks of rice, he said, “We are givingrice to 8 million people at Tk 10 per kg.” Next September, October, November – in three months we will need about two lakh tons of rice. Last year the stock (stocks) was low. Then I converted TR, Kabikha into money. This time TR-Kabikha will be given as per rules. OMS will be further expanded.
Claiming that the rice will not be wasted even if it is stored for a long time, the secretary of the food ministry said that the stock of aman is good. Aman rice is moisture tolerant. This season’s rice is not easily spoiled. Even then we are making airtight arrangements in our godowns. I am doing some modern food.
However, there are differences between the report of the Food Department and the statement of the secretary. According to the report, the total collection of rice in the last two seasons (Boro and Aman) has been less than the target of four lakh 26 thousand 181 tons. In the current fiscal year 2021-2022, the food department had set a target of collecting 300,000 tonnes of paddy (one lakh 99,384 tonnes as 0.8456 in the aman season) and 720,000 tonnes of siddhachal during the aman procurement season (ending till February 28).
Although the target is to collect a total of nine lakh 19 thousand 364 tons, seven lakh 7 thousand 141 metric tons of rice has been collected in the aman season. According to estimates, one lakh 51 thousand 233 tons less than the target has been collected in the season. This collection of rice was even less last year.
Rice collection has also been low in the last Boro season. The target for the Boro season (ending August 31) was to procure 6.5 million tonnes of paddy and 12.35 million tonnes of rice.
In all, the target for the Boro season was to collect 4,22,500 tonnes of rice in six and a half lakh tonnes of paddy as zero point 65 and a total of 16,56,500 tonnes of rice was procured. But the total rice collection was 13 lakh 71 thousand 552 tons. As a result, less than two lakh 65 thousand 946 tons of rice has been collected in the just outgoing boro season. Although the collection was less as per the target, the import was also in balance. As a result, stocks have increased exponentially due to higher rice imports in the current financial year.
A senior food official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said stocks were low last year. Then the import has been increased. The rice of that work order is still coming. The borough collection season will start anew soon after Ramadan. The official said that food grains are a product which cannot be stored for long. In addition to balanced imports, there must be a balanced distribution system. Otherwise, there will be problems with stocks.
It is learned that the food department could not procure rice as per the target in the last financial year (2020-2021) due to crop failure during the Corona period and the price of rice in the open market was higher than the price fixed by the government. Last year, government food stocks declined more than at any other time. As a result, the price of rice continues to rise in the country’s market. Later, the government took steps to import rice quickly. The government procures rice through open tender as well as import at G2G (Government with Government) level.
The government also gave an opportunity to the private traders to import rice. Although the collection in the current (2021-2022) fiscal year was less than the target, the import has increased. As a result, stocks have also increased. However, the price of rice has not decreased in the market.
According to the Food Department, a total of 40 lakh 18 thousand 900 metric tons of food grains have been imported in the first eight months and 23 days (till July 1 to March 23) of the current 2021-2022 fiscal year. Of this, nine lakh 56 thousand 320 tons of rice and 30 lakh 57 thousand 580 metric tons of wheat.
At the same time, the government has imported 10 lakh 94 thousand 290 metric tons of food grains. In this, rice has been imported six lakh 52 thousand 60 metric tons and wheat has been imported four lakh 41 thousand 630 metric tons. In all, at present (till March 23) the official food stock stands at 16 lakh four thousand 360 metric tons.
Of this, the stock of rice (including paddy) is 15 lakh one thousand 480 metric tons and the stock of wheat is two lakh nine thousand 160 metric tons. However, during the same period of the last financial year (2020-2021) the stock of government food grains was five lakh 26 thousand 610 metric tons. Of this, the stock of rice (including paddy) was four lakh 49,300 metric tons and the stock of wheat was only 65,900 metric tons.
Omar Azam, general secretary of the Chittagong Rice Traders’ Association, told that the price of rice was high at the beginning of the year but now it is falling. Even if government reserves are high, the market will not be affected much.
According to the data of Bangladesh Bank, 8 lakh 10 thousand 290 metric tons of rice loan certificates have been opened till February 28 of the current 2021-2022 financial year. 10 lakh 10 thousand 60 tons of rice bonds have been completed during this period including the bonds of the previous financial year. 50,060 metric tons in July of the current financial year, 3,600 metric tons in August, 4,30,200 metric tons in September,
Traders have opened bonds for 25,060 metric tonnes in October, 640 metric tonnes in November, 1,560 metric tonnes in December, 620 metric tonnes in January and only 330 metric tonnes in February.
According to the Department of Agriculture Marketing, on Sunday (March 26) at the retail market in Chittagong, fine rice was sold at Tk 70-8 per kg, miniket at Tk 69-72, medium quality rice at Tk 48-55 and coarse rice at Tk 42-48. According to the report of the department, the price of rice was the same a month ago. However, at the same time last year (2021), the price of coarse and medium quality rice was 2-3 taka more per kg but the price of fine rice was 8-12 taka less per kg.
Meanwhile, Trading Corporation of Bangladesh-TCB says that Nazirshail and Miniket varieties of rice are being sold at Tk 70-80 per kg, medium quality rice of Pajama or Lata variety at Tk 50-56 per kg and coarse rice of Gold or China Eri variety at Tk 45-46 per kg.
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