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Bangladesh’s rice imports set to skid as domestic output rebounds

Bangladesh’s rice imports set to skid as domestic output rebounds

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s rice imports are likely to plunge 66 percent from a year ago to 1.2 million tonnes in 2018/19 as the south Asian country is likely to harvest a bigger crop after prices jumped in the domestic market, industry officials told Reuters.

Lower imports by Bangladesh could reduce rice exports by India, the biggest supplier to the neighbouring country.

“Bangladesh is unlikely to buy actively in the market next fiscal year like this year. It’s imports would be around 1.2 million tonnes,” Nitin Gupta, vice president, rice business at Olam India, told Reuters.

Bangladesh has imported 3.5 million tonnes of rice so far in the current fiscal year ending in June, massively up from 133,000 tonnes in the previous year as floods ravaged its domestic crop.

“There won’t be panic buying from the government next year. Stock level has improved significantly,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm. He declined to be identified citing company policy.

As well as higher supplies, a bigger inventory will cut the country’s imports in coming months, said Badrul Hasan, head of Bangladesh’s state grain buyer.

Rice stocks have risen to 1 million tonnes after falling to 245,000 tonnes in May 2017, the lowest in 10 years, food ministry data showed.

In 2017, rice prices in Bangladesh jumped due to depleting inventory and forced the government to seek supplies from Asian countries like India, Thailand and Vietnam.

The price rise prompted farmers to expand areas under the summer-sown crop, also known as ‘Boro’, to more than 4.9 million hectares, exceeding the target of 4.7 million hectares, said Mohammad Mohsin, director general of Department of Agriculture Extension.