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Making unbridled profits: Who will rein the rice market?

21 November 2022

It seems very tough to bring the rice market under control in the country. The rice market has been unstable for a long time. There are rumours that rice prices may increase further. There is a strong allegation that some unscrupulous traders, particularly rice millers, are manipulating the rice market. It is apprehending that the rice market will go out of control of ordinary people soon if the price hike of rice is not contained immediately.
Citing the recent research of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), a newspaper report on Saturday said that rice reaches the consumer's level after changing five hands in different phases. Costs and profits add up every time a hand changes. In the market, there is no shortage of rice, but the price has been abnormally increasing. Even after importing rice from abroad by decreasing duty, there is no sign of the price coming down. It is not only unusual, but also unprecedented. It further adds that owners of rice mills are making the most profit of Tk 8 to Tk 14 per kg of rice. The owners of rice mills, however, are denying that they are incurring unusual profit.
According to the BRRI research, five parties are involved in the rice trade market. First, the farmer himself, secondly the middlemen, thirdly, the stockist, fourthly, the rice mill owners and fifthly, the rice retailers. The director general of the BRRI said the price is increasing rapidly mainly due to the owners of rice mills. Rice millers should account for how much they are buying paddy and how much profit they are making on the paddy and its by-products. Also the chairman of Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation said rice mill owners have established control over the rice market through financial, social and political power.
Earlier we heard about syndicates in edible oil, onion and sugar markets. Now it appears that there is a big syndicate in the rice market. The rice mill owners created a situation by increasing the price, in which the government was forced to import. When the decision of importing rice was made again, they took advantage of that opportunity. Rice mill owners will definitely make profits, but incurring Tk 8 to 14 per kg of rice is absolutely unwarranted.
To stop the arbitrariness of the rice mill owners and traders, the authorities must conduct strict and intensive monitoring on illegal rice stocking so that they cannot make an unfair profit. As well, sufficient distribution of rice must be ensured under the government management so that none can get any opportunity to make hefty profit on per kg of rice.

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