DHAKA: Bangladesh’s state grain buyer has issued its seventh international tender since May to import 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice in an effort to replenish reserves. Bangladesh, the world’s fourth-biggest rice producer, has emerged as a major importer of the grain this year after flash floods in April hit domestic output. As a result, the country is facing dwindling stocks and high local prices. The deadline for offers in the tender is Aug. 20, with the rice to be shipped within 40 days of signing any deal, a senior official at the country’s state grains buyer said.
The country has also been importing rice via state-to-state deals. “We’ll be issuing tenders and at the same time looking for government deals until our import target is fulfilled,” Badrul Hasan, the head of Bangladesh’s state grain buyer told Reuters. The state grain buyer aims to import as much as 1.2 million tonnes this year, and has so far struck deals with Vietnam. But plans to import from India and Thailand could be suspended because of high prices and the government is already looking to Cambodia to replenish stocks. A Bangladeshi delegation, led by Food Minister Kamrul Islam, will visit Cambodia this week to sign a memorandum to import rice, ministry officials said.
Bangladesh bought 200,000 tonnes of Vietnamese white rice at $430 a tonne and 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice at $470 a tonne in a state-to-state deal – at rates much higher than in previous tenders. The lowest offer in the fifth tender by the state grains buyer for 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice, which opened last Thursday, was from Olam at $419.51 a tonne, CIF liner out. The sixth tender for a similar quantity of rice will close on Aug. 8. Private traders have imported around 150,000 tonnes of rice from neighbouring India after the government cut import duties in late June. But prices of rice, a staple food for Bangladesh’s 160 million people, dropped only a little, posing a problem for the government which faces a national election due next year.