Rice pricier even in peak Boro season
The prices of rice rose by Tk 8-10 per kg over the last two weeks even though it is the harvesting season and there is ample supply of paddy.
At different kitchen markets, the price of coarse rice rose to Tk 52-54 a kg while the fine varieties sold for Tk 65 to Tk 80 yesterday.
According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the prices of coarse and fine rice increased by 5.38 percent and 3.17 percent over the last seven days.
Traders said the rice mill owners were not supplying enough rice to the market and the prices might rise further if they do not improve supplies.
Asked, Benjir Alam, director general at the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), said there was no shortage of rice in the market because farmers cultivated Boro on 49.63 lakh hectares, which is 90,000 hectares more than they cultivated last year.
Floods have damaged paddy on only about 18,500 hectares this season, he said. "Besides, the production was good."
The expectation was to harvest 2.11 crore tonnes of paddy this Boro season, the DG said, adding that almost 94 percent of the target has been met already.
Besides, farmers in different parts of the country would continue to bring paddy from the fields until the end of this month.
He blamed the traders and millers for creating an artificial shortage in the market.
However, several rice mill owners in different districts said the paddy they bought from farmers were not properly ripe and not dry enough to produce rice instantly.
Meanwhile, the government raids across the country to control the prices have largely failed to make an impact on the first day.
Yesterday afternoon, officials conducted a drive at the wholesale rice market in Babubazar, Old Dhaka, but found most of the shops closed.
Eight teams of officials of the food ministry and food directorate will conduct drives in the capital today.
The drives were launched a day after the cabinet directed officials to take action against the companies involved in unauthorised rice businesses and hoarding.
Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said on Sunday that some large companies without any legal authoritsation were hoarding rice.
At a kitchen market in the capital yesterday, Siddikur Rahman, a resident of the capital's Nakhalpara, said, "I used to buy miniket rice at Tk 62 a kg. After the prices of other essentials went up, I switched to BIRI-29 which was Tk 52. Now BIRI-29 is Tk 57 a kg.
"I am trying really hard to reduce my expenditures, but I'm failing," he said.
In Dinajpur's NA Market, one of the largest markets of rice in the country, our correspondent yesterday found that each 50kg sack of Miniket rice was sold for Tk 3,200-3,300, BRRI-28 for Tk 2,750-2,800, Paizam for Tk 2,600, Swarna for Tk 2,300 and Basmati for Tk 3,800.
Traders said the price of each 50kg sack increased by Tk 400-500 in two weeks.
"The prices are changing almost every day," said Golam Rabbani, a shopkeeper at the market. He blamed the rice mill owners for this.
On the other hand, Azizul Iqbal Chowdhury, joint secretary of Dinajpur Mill Operators' Association, claimed that the mill owners were buying paddy at higher prices.
In Kushtia, rice prices shot up by Tk 4 a kg on Saturday.
Umar Faruk, managing director of Fresh Agro Mill, echoed Azizul and blamed paddy prices.
But farmers disagree.
Jakaria Hossain, a paddy grower in Kushtia's Khajanagar, said paddy prices had not risen.
In Rajshahi, rice traders blamed the supply dearth. Rain, hailstorms, and pest attacks significantly reduced paddy yield, they said.
Nirod Baran Saha, president of the Paddy and Rice Stockists and Wholesalers' Association in Naogaon, said rice yield was 1.12 tonne less than expected per hectare in Rajshahi division.
"The price of rice will hopefully go down this week as millers will be able to produce and supply rice," he said.
Our Correspondents from Rajshahi, Dinajpur and Kushtia contributed to this report.