Govt to buy rice from pvt importers
Desperate to boost the stock, the government is going to import rice through local traders after an initiative to bring in the staple from Cambodia through state-to-state arrangement has failed recently.
The cabinet committee on purchase yesterday approved a proposal for importing 1 lakh tonnes of rice through open tender for Tk 42,250 to Tk 43,725 per tonne.
According to food ministry documents, local traders will import the rice from India, Thailand, Pakistan and Vietnam and deliver it to 46 government silos across the country in several lots.
There would be 1,000 to 3,000 tonnes of rice in each lot.
Last month, the same committee had approved another proposal for importing 1 lakh tonnes of the staple which would reach 38 government silos by traders. The price was set at Tk 43,440 to Tk 44,330 per tonne.
Import of another 1 lakh tonnes of rice is in the pipeline and the government has already opened tenders in this regard, show the ministry website.
In August this year, an initiative was taken for the import of 2.5 lakh tonnes of rice from Cambodia. A Reuters report on November 14, however, said Bangladesh cancelled the deal over a delay in shipments.
"We had to terminate the deal as they failed to supply the rice on time," Badrul Hasan, the head of Bangladesh's state grain buyer, told Reuters.
The government is desperately trying to replenish its depleted stock through imports after production was hit by flash floods and fungal attacks.
Despite deals with several rice exporting countries, including Vietnam, India, Thailand and Myanmar, Bangladesh is still battling to increase its reserves, with rice imports set to hit their highest levels in a decade.
The import of rice at both government and private levels have picked up lately. From July 1 to November 14, a total of 17.24 lakh tonnes of rice was imported. Of the quantity, 4.05 lakh tonnes was brought in by the government.
It did not have to import any rice last fiscal year. However, 13.32 lakh tonnes of the staple came through the private sector.
Till now, the cabinet committee has approved proposals for import of around 12 lakh tonnes of rice through state-to-state arrangement and international bidder via open tender.
The government has also decided to import 20 lakh tonnes of food grains -- 15 lakh tonnes of rice and 5 lakh tonnes of wheat -- this fiscal year. This is 11 lakh tonnes more than the government's earlier projected food import volume.
As the rice production was hampered by the floods and fungal attack, prices skyrocketed and went beyond Tk 50 per kg for coarse rice. The prices, however, have fallen slightly in recent times.
As per a food ministry report, coarse rice was sold at Tk 42 to Tk 44 per kg last week. It was below Tk 35 one year back.
NO MAJOR SHORTFALL OF FOODGRAIN: PM
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday in parliament ruled out any possibility of major shortfall of foodgrain production in the country despite floods causing damage to crops to some extent.
"We're always active to achieve the target of food production," she said reading out a scripted answer.
She said 3.88 crore tonnes of granular foodgrains (rice, wheat and maize) were produced in fiscal 2016-17.
The PM said the government has taken various programmes for the assistance of the affected farmers. She said a Tk 117 crore special agriculture rehabilitation programme has been undertaken for the farmers of the six districts of haor region, who were hit hard by floods, excessive rains and onrush of hilly water.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics data, the country's rice production last fiscal year was 9 lakh tonnes less than that of the previous year and on November 14 this year, the total food stock stood at 6.8 lakh metric tonnes, including 4.11 lakh metric tonnes of rice. On the same date last year, the stock was 8 lakh metric tonnes, including five lakh metric tonnes of rice.