Businessmen want ban on aromatic rice exports to go
Rice exporters yesterday were unable to push through their proposal to export at least 10 tonnes of aromatic rice, as the government wants to prioritise domestic food security, said a commerce ministry official.
Commerce Minister Faruk Khan held a meeting with rice exporters at his secretariat to discuss the proposal to allow aromatic rice exports out of Bangladesh.
The minister however was unable to brief newsmen on the matter as he was on his way to parliament.
A ministry official who was present at the meeting told The Daily Star that the minister did not accept the proposal, in efforts to keep the prices of the staple food at tolerable levels.
"The government is prioritising domestic food security as it was one of its electoral pledges to people," he quoted the minister.
"The commerce minister ruled out the possibility of allowing aromatic rice exports," said Shah Alam Babu, president of Bangladesh Rice Exporters Association (BREA), after the meeting.
Alam said his association has been lobbying with the government for several months now to obtain a permit to export aromatic rice, as its demand is high, especially among non-resident Bangladeshis (NRBs).
He said rice was last exported in May 2008, when it was still permitted.
However, the then caretaker government imposed a ban on the export of all types of rice as prices crept up due to supply shortages.
According to Alam, there is demand for 2,500 tonnes of aromatic rice a year by NBRs and before the ban was imposed, at least 6 tonnes of aromatic rice were exported a year.
This time, exporters proposed a permit to export of at least 10 tonnes of aromatic rice.
He said farmers produce 3,00,000 tonnes of aromatic rice a year, of which, 80,000 tonnes remain a surplus, as demand for such high quality rice is low on local markets.
"We were developing a Bangladeshi brand by exporting rice as the demand for Chinigura and Kali Zeera is high among the NRBs. But the ban on exports is hampering brand development," Alam said.