Rice prices have increased by Tk 2 each kilogram owing to disruption in the supply chain because of the 11th general elections, said Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder yesterday.
“Now, the market is stable,” he said after a meeting with rice millers at the Directorate of Food on the reasons behind the spiral in prices of the staple despite good production in the last three seasons and 11.79 lakh tonnes of rice stocks in the public warehouses. Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi and rice traders were also present at the meeting.
In the past week, the prices of coarse rice, consumed mainly by low-income people, edged up by Tk 1 to Tk 35-38 per kilogram, according to data from the Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM).
Majumder though said they do not have information about the spike in coarse rice prices.
“The prices of fine rice have risen by Tk 2 each kilogram and millers have admitted to that.”
Fine rice was selling at Tk 55-62 a kg yesterday, up from Tk 54-62 a month ago, according to data from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.
“The spiral may take place in Dhaka because of the 48-hour suspension of transport during national election. But at the hub, particularly in Naoagaon, prices have not soared,” Majumder said.
The divisional rice price data show that the retail prices of rice have not risen yesterday, he said. The rice market has become normal now.
“All the millers have promised that they will not increase the prices further. We do not think there is any conspiracy behind the price hike.”
In response to a question on ensuring fair prices for growers, he said it is the responsibility of the agriculture ministry.
“The interests of farmers, millers, traders and consumers will be protected if the market prices remain consistent with the government's procurement prices of rice and paddy.” At the meeting with the millers, referring to reports in the media Majumder said it was a puzzle that rice prices were rising even after bumper production and adequate stock.
Munshi said they sat with the millers to ensure that none hike prices intentionally.
The prices of coarse did not increase, said KM Layek Ali, general secretary of the Auto Major and Husking Mills Association.
The prices of rice have increased in areas that saw supply disruption during election, said Nirod Boron Saha, president of Naogaon Dhan O Chal Arathdar Babshayee Samity, rice wholesalers' and commission agents' association.
He went on to stress on authentic and timely data on production and stock of food grains as well as better coordination among agriculture, food and commerce ministries.