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Rice price still high despite record import

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Special Correspondent :
Rice price still growing high in the market and selling at exorbitantly record high level  despite  import of huge quantity of rice throughout last year in public and private channels.
In Dhaka, coarse rice sells at Tk 45 and above per kg while medium rice is selling at Tk 50 and above per kg. Fine rice is selling at Tk 60 and above per kg and the market shows no sign of cooling despite arrival of Aman harvest in the market. .  
Even prices of various rice varieties increased recently by Tk 50 to Tk 100 per 50 kg sack in wholesale market in major rice growing districts, reports Our Correspondent.
But when the rice arrives in retail market in the city prices at buyers ends show disproportionately high as the market remained hostage to dishonest merchant syndicates, the market sources said.  
"Prices of fine grade rice increased even last week showing the situation unchanged and it may continue for the next 2-3 months until harvesting of fine rice such as Miniket following Boro season. The price is expected to come down after arrival of new crops," Jainal Abedin, General Secretary of Kushtia Rice Mill Owners Association, told The New Nation yesterday.
According to him, price of per sack Miniket rice has increased by Tk 70 to Tk 100 at Khwajanagar wholesale market in Kushtia by the time. Khwajanagar is the largest wholesale rice market in the country where millers produce more than 1000 metric tons of rice per day.
Meanwhile rice prices in Naogaon and Bogra districts have started to rise again after remaining  
stable for several weeks. Prices of all varieties increased by up to Tk 2 to Tk 5 per kg in Bogra while fine grade rice showed rise by Tk 1 to Tk 2 per kg. However prices of coarse rice remained unchanged in Naogaon.
Bangladesh, the world's fourth-biggest rice producer, has emerged as a major importer of rice last year due to depletion of stocks in government godowns to push prices up particularly after flash floods.
Rice imports hit two-decade high in the first half of the current fiscal from July to December as private importers rushed to more import to make higher profits.  Imports of the staple stood at 22.59 lakh tons during this period with the share of public sector import at 5.08 lakh tons.
The highest import of rice was recorded in 1998-99 fiscal when the total volume soared at 30.67 lakh tones. The mismatch in food management emerged recently because of poor harvest and depletion of stock in government politically motivated selling of rice at very low cost.
Food security always demands maintaining reasonable buffer stock to keep the market stable in emergency situation. The government has apparently failed to maintain it this time making consumers vulnerable to unbridled market.
The government is trying to develop the buffer stock again by huge imports but it is yet to produce positive impact for lower stock and unabated manipulation," economist Dr Ahsan Monsoor told The New Nation.
He said the greed for reaping undue profits by the wholesalers and retailers has kept the prices still at a very high level. High rice price has already hit the lower income people hard and the food inflation is on rise which may hit hard the entire Economy soon.
 "Unusual rice price hike is the most worrisome development of Bangladesh economy from last year and it should be brought under control at any cost in 2018 to ameliorate the suffering of the common people. Otherwise an attempt to achieve higher growth may suffer at the end.
 "The government should manage rice stocks with high efficiency to bring stability in rice market and keep eyes in retail market to keep supply steady," said Dr Ahsan Monsoor.

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