Myanmar shows interest to supply 1 lakh tonnes of rice
Myanmar has shown interest to supply 100,000 tonnes of rice to Bangladesh under a state-to-state contract, according to a top official of the food ministry.
"We received a letter regarding Myanmar's interest to supply rice but are yet to start discussions," said Food Secretary Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum.
"We want to give priority to India when it comes to buying rice since Myanmar supplies raw rice that is mainly consumed in the Sylhet area," she added.
Last week, the government's purchase committee approved a proposal from the Directorate of Food to import 2.50 lakh tonnes of rice, including 1.50 lakh tonnes of grains from India under a state-to-state contract.
The food ministry is also considering increasing the amount of rice to be purchased from India and officials from both countries are expected to hold discussions in this regard by the end of the week, Khanum said.
Although she did not share the proposed purchase amount, the food secretary informed that the price of rice is lower in India than it is in Myanmar.
The government has memorandums of understanding with four countries -- India, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam -- regarding the purchase of rice through a state-to-state arrangement.
"We will import from Myanmar if needed," Khanum added.
The developments come at a time when the food ministry has also allowed private firms to import the staple grain in order to increase domestic supply and contain the volatile prices seen at local markets from earlier this month.
Until yesterday, retail prices of the coarse grain stood at Tk 45-48 per kilogramme, up 43 per cent from a year ago, when it was Tk 30-35 per kg, data from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh shows.
The government gave the nod to private firms to import another 1.41 lakh tonnes of rice on January 11.
With this permission, the private sector is allowed to import 8.16 lakh tonnes of rice in total.
And including the government's purchase target, the amount of imports by the public and private sectors stands at 11.66 lakh tonnes.