Rice prices soar amid flash floods
Flash floods in the greater Sylhet region have taken its toll on farmers and created a shortage of paddy for small to medium-sized rice mills. The haor areas in northern Sylhet account for nearly 10 percent of the total cultivation area of about 4.8 million hectares this year and the flooding has adversely affected about 140,000 hectares. The mills usually stock up near the end of the season, which isn't happening this season due to unexpected floods and only the big millers are well stocked with paddy. What it all boils down to is a rise in retail prices of coarse rise in Dhaka by nearly 6.5 percent over a week and there is upward price rise of such rice in other parts of the country.
Although farmers in the north have sustained losses, by Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) estimates, the loss of paddy is miniscule in terms of total paddy production. Then why are we seeing such a sharp increase in price? The shortage may be the outcome of hoarding and price manipulation since only a fraction of mills has enough paddy stock to be turned into rice. Whatever may be the case, it is imperative that the government take steps to stabilise the price of this essential commodity. If there is indeed any hoarding going on, authorities must act swiftly against these parties. There may be need to reduce the import duty on rice in the short term to compensate for any crunch in supply. Finally, farmers' losses need to be made bearable through soft loans so that they can tide over the current situation and be ready for next season's sowing.