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Rice prices rise further in a week

'Govt's price fixation futile'

Yasir Wardad | November 11, 2020 00:00:00

Prices of rice, especially of medium and finer varieties, increased further across the country in a week, battering the consumers.

Medium quality Brridhan-28 and 29 varieties were sold at Tk 54-57 a kg and finer quality Miniket (non-branded) at Tk 62-68 a kg based on quality, registering Tk 2.0-3.0 hike a kg in a week.

Najirshail, another finer quality, was sold at Tk 65-72 a kg on Tuesday.

Rice prices of coarser varieties, including Swarna, BR-11 and hybrids, remained static at their previous high of Tk 46-50 a kg.

Traders attributed the hike in medium and finer quality rice prices to shortage of the varieties amid off season.

Market observers, however, criticised the government for its 'failure in implementing price fixation system'.

The government fixed maximum mill-gate prices of medium and finer quality rice in September. The decision was taken in a meeting with the millers and traders.

The maximum price of medium quality rice (like Brridhan-28, 29) was fixed at Tk 45 a kg, and finer quality Miniket at Tk 51.5 a kg at mill-gate.

"But now the millers are selling Brridhan-28 at Tk 46.5-48 a kg and Miniket at Tk 52-55 a kg, based on quality," said Md Samsuzzaman, a rice wholesaler at Mohammadpur Agricultural Market in the city.

The prices have increased for the third time in last one and half months.

He also said they are selling medium quality rice at Tk 49-51 a kg to retailers.

Md Shahidul Patwary Mohon, vice-president of Bangladesh Auto Major Husking Mill Owners Association, told the FE that it is off season for medium and finer varieties, like Brridhan-28 and Miniket.

He also said Boro is now the key season for such rice varieties.

The prices of Brridhan-28 paddy increased to Tk 1,250-1,300 a maund (40 kg) in last few days. Minimum production cost of the variety is now Tk 50 a kg (rice form).

He said prices of coarse varieties, like Swarna and BR-11, will decline notably within a few weeks, as Aman is now the major season for those.

Agri economist and value chain expert Prof Golam Hafeez Kennedy said the government has failed to implement its decision of price fixation at mill-gate.

The millers followed the government rate only for two weeks, and then started raising prices as per their wish.

He noted that according to the Ministry of Agriculture data, production was at an all-time high of 20.03 million tonnes in the Boro season.

"But we saw no impact of such bumper production in the market."

He said the government could not purchase half of its targeted rice through procurement drive.

Authentic data on Boro and Aman production should be procured and published, so that policy-makers can enact a time-befitting import policy immediately.

"Safety-net programmes should be largely extended across the country to protect millions of hungry poor, who are going through the toughest time since the country's independence amid the pandemic," he added.

Target for rice production in the ongoing Aman season has been fixed at 15.3 million tonnes in 5.9 million hectares of land.

The Ministry of Agriculture is still optimistic of achieving the target despite the fact that the country witnessed four spells of flooding in between the Aman cultivation season.

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