Wheat flour prices abnormally high in Bangladesh: FAO
With wheat flour prices crossing Tk 60 per kilogramme (kg) by the end of last week, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) maintained its price warning level for the second most consumed grain at "high" in Bangladesh.
November is the third consecutive month the UN agency has kept its warning at high for the country as prices of wheat flour edged up to Tk 54.65 per kg in Dhaka city in October this year, up from Tk 50.10 in September.
The FAO said prices of wheat flour in October were almost 80 per cent above their year-earlier levels.
"The high domestic prices mostly reflect a slowdown in imports and high transportation costs due to elevated prices of fuel," it said in its monthly Food Price Monitoring and Analysis released on Friday.
Bangladesh is the only Asian country for which the FAO issued the high price warning level this month. Of the seven countries facing high warnings for prices, five are in Africa while Columbia is the only country in America, according to the UN agency.
Yesterday, the retail price of loose wheat flour, locally known as Atta, was Tk 60-62 per kg in Dhaka, which was 8 per cent higher from a month ago, as per data from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.
The price of wheat flour, which was Tk 34 per kg in the capital in January this year, began to rise after Russia's invasion of Ukraine began in the third week of February.
Later in May, India banned shipments of wheat to contain its domestic prices, which fuelled prices in Bangladesh as the neighbouring country has become a major source for the grain in recent years.
Wheat imports fell to its lowest in six years in fiscal year 2021-22 amid the lack of availability while many consumers' curtailed consumption after being irked by surging prices for the grain.
Public and private importers brought in 40 lakh tonnes of wheat in the last fiscal, down 25 per cent year-on-year as businesses drastically cut imports, shows food ministry data.
Between July 1 and October 6 of the fiscal year beginning from July 2022, Bangladesh's wheat imports declined 4 per cent year-on-year to 384,000 tonnes, it said.
Early this month, the US Department of Agriculture, in its Grain and Feed Update on Bangladesh, forecasted that the country's overall wheat consumption might drop 10 per cent to 69 lakh tonnes in marketing year 2022-23 as high market prices and lower supply of wheat and wheat flour were reducing consumer demand.
The US agency also cut its projection regarding Bangladesh's wheat import by 21 per cent year-on-year to 55 lakh tonnes for the same year.
Bangladesh roughly produces 10 lakh tonnes of wheat and it imports the rest for domestic consumption.