Rice prices soar as OMS suspended

Poor people bear the brunt in Ramadan

The suspension of Open Market Sale (OMS) programme, meant for providing major food items to common people for relatively low prices, has resulted in price rise of coarse rice and flour in the disterict, adding to the sufferings to low-income people during the ongoing Ramadan.

The food department suspended sale of coarse rice under OMS programme on May 15 and coarse flour on June 3, office sources said.

Under the programme, the price of coarse rice was fixed at Tk 15 per kg and flour Tk 17 per kg. 

Now people have to buy the same items at Tk 24-26 and Tk 30-Tk 35 from the local markets.

Usually the government starts OMS programme ahead of Ramadan to keep the rice market stable during the holy month when Muslims observe fasting.

Under the programme, the items are sold through 81 dealers six days a week, allowing each person to buy five kg of rice and five kg of flour at a time.

Each of the dealers, including 53 in as many unions, four in as many upazila headquarters and 24 in the district headquarters, was supplied 500 kg of coarse rice and 500 kg of flour, said officials of the district food department.

But the programme was suspended before Ramadan.

The price of coarse rice recently increased by Tk 2-10 per kg, depending on quality in the local retail markets, said market sources. 

During a visit to different rice markets in Thakurgaon, the correspondent found that the coarse rice is selling at Tk 24 to 25 while it was Tk 22 just a day before Ramadan.

Guti variety of rice is selling at Tk 24/25 while it was Tk 20/22 before Ramadan. Sarnaguti is selling at Tk 30 while it was Tk 22 two weeks ago.

The price rise of coarse rice affected the prices of fine rice too.

Miniket and pyjam are selling at Tk 44 a kg while it was Tk 40 last week, said traders at local retail and wholesale markets in Thakurgaon.

"I earn around Tk 100 a day by helping in domestic works in people's houses. I have to buy a kg of rice at Tk 25 although it was Tk 15 from OMS dealers. Now I find it difficult to manage money for other essential things," said Khodeja Begum, 35, a resident of Munshipara in Thakurgaon municipality area.

Day labourer Sundar Ali of Khalpara in Thakurgaon municipality is also in the same boat.

District Food Controller Chowdhury Mosabber Hossain told this correspondent over cell phone that sale of coarse rice and flour under OMS programme was suspended following direction of the directorate of food.