Wheat imports: Govt looking at five options
The government is trying to import wheat from five alternative sources on a government-to-government basis after India banned the export of the food grain, said Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi yesterday.
"It is not like we will not get wheat from India," he said at a dialogue organised by Bangladesh Secretariat Reporters Forum at the secretariat.
The government is hopeful of receiving shipments from the neighbouring country.
The instructions banning export of wheat from India will not prevent export of wheat to India's neighbours and other countries that might wish to procure this produce to supplement their domestic food security policies, at the request of their governments, said Indian High Commission in a statement.
"They [India] have made it clear that they will consider the needs of neighbouring countries," the minister said.
Bangladesh is working on a deal to import wheat from India on a government-to-government basis.
"Besides, we have spoken with the Canadian High Commissioner. Our food ministry is communicating with other countries -- they are very hopeful of importing wheat from alternative sources."
Munshi also remains hopeful of getting wheat from war-struck Ukraine, a big source of wheat for Bangladesh.
"Even after that, I am hopeful because they [Ukraine] will have to sell their wheat. We will try to get wheat from them somehow."
As much as 86 percent of Bangladesh's annual demand for 85 lakh tonnes of wheat is met from imports.
In 2020, the country started bringing in wheat from India in large volumes for shorter shipment times and lower costs.
In the financial year that ended on March 31, Bangladesh was the largest importer of wheat, accounting for nearly half of India's record 7 million tonnes of wheat exports, according to estimates by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade under the commerce ministry.
The government will also not take a hard stance against traders who hoarded oil illegally for the sake of stability in the market.
"We are business-friendly. We fix the price in line with the global market. If there is a fixed price in the market, the market will remain stable."
He also reiterated that trusting traders was a mistake.
"We made a mistake by not fixing the edible oil price for the last two months in a row. If we had, they would not have taken the opportunity."
Regarding onions, he said the price of onion is a little higher now but within the reach of consumers.
"We are ensuring that the farmers get a fair price, which would be at least Tk 25 per kg, as the production cost is around Tk 18-20 per kg. Besides, we are focusing on the fact that consumers can buy onions at Tk 45 per kg, including transportation and other expenses."