DHAKA: Soaring paddy prices, high import cost and lack of market monitoring may drive the rice price in the local market high, traders have hinted. Rice prices dropped a little following an import glut a month ago, but are yet to be within the reach of the middle-income group. However, the prices of Bangladesh’s staple rose slightly in the past one month. According to the food ministry, the government stock of rice was a little over 200,000 tonnes on July 2. Private importers brought around 120,000 tonnes from July 1 to 25. Some of the traders said the prices are rising this time due to the increase in prices of paddy and lack of government surveillance. They think that the imported rice failed to make expected impact on the market because of the ‘high import cost’.
Abu Bakr Siddique, a manager of a rice agency in Dhaka’s North Badda, told bdnews24.com on Friday that the prices of rice went up by around Tk 20 per 50-kilogram sack in past two weeks due to hike in prices of paddy. He ruled out recent rains as the reason behind the rise. “Rain cannot cause any problem now because rice is processed in auto mills,” he said. He is selling one sack of Miniket rice at Tk 2,600 to Tk 2,650, Najirshile from Tk 2,500 to Tk 2,750 and BR-28 (local) from Tk 2,180 to Tk 2,200. Coarse rice is being sold at Tk 1,950 to Tk 2,000 per sack while the price of BR-28 rice, processed in auto mills, is Tk 2,300 to Tk 2,350.
Rice trader ‘Rasel’ of Karwan Bazar said he was selling one sack of Miniket rice at Tk 2,500 to Tk 2,650, Najirshile from Tk 2,600 to Tk 2,650 and BR-28, processed in auto mills at Tk 2,300 to Tk 2,450. The minimum price of local coarse rice in the market is Tk 1,900 per sack while the coarse rice imported from India is being sold at Tk 2,125 to Tk 2,150. Rasel said the prices rose by Tk 20 to Tk 25 in past 15-20 days due to ‘slight’ rise in paddy prices. “Millers said rice prices would go up slightly. They are raising the prices because of hike in paddy prices,” he said. Alam Khan, another trader in the market, said the prices of local rice were not dropping at normal rates as the prices of imported rice were ‘high’. “The government is giving permission to import rice, but there is no one to see what prices are being charged. The government should also control the sale of imported rice,” he said.
Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners Association General Secretary KM Layek Ali urged the government to conduct ‘operations’ to bring down rice prices to tolerable rates. “How will the prices of local rice decrease when imported rice is selling at higher prices?” he asked. He claimed that India raised rice prices when the Bangladesh government lowered the duty to import rice. “And no other country than India sells parboiled rice.” Layek Ali said the prices were also rising because it is the end of the season. “The prices will rise more after one a half months. Rice prices will never drop without anti-hoarding operations.” About rise in paddy prices, he said, “Only those who stored paddy following government instruction can now run the mills. It is not possible to buy fresh paddy to run the mills.”