After remaining static for a month, rice prices witnessed a hike in the city retail markets last week, adding to the woes of consumers already hit hard by a surge in the prices of essentials.
Though onion prices showed a slight downward trend amid easing import hurdles by the government, pulses, eggs and ginger showed a hike during the period.
After the surge in the wholesales, rice prices increased in the Dhaka retail markets last week by Tk 2.0-3.0 a kg.
Coarse varieties were sold at Tk 48-52 a kg, medium quality BRRI dhan 28 at Tk 55-58 and finer Miniket, Zira, Najirshail and Katari (parboiled) at Tk 65-80 a kg.
The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) recorded a 3.0 per cent hike in rice prices in a week, while the current prices of coarse and medium varieties are nearly 13 per cent higher than those in a year ago.
Johirul Islam, a grocer at Dhanmondi-15, told the FE that prices of rice might rise further amid a rocketing trend in the wholesales.
He said prices of BRRI dhan 28, Miniket and Zira had increased by Tk 200 per 50 kg sack in the last one and a half weeks at the Mohammadpur Agricultural Market.
Prices of the medium variety will be Tk 58-60 a kg and finer Miniket Tk 65-72 a kg, depending on quality, within a week, he said.
Amzad Hossain, a rice trader at Badamtoli in the city, said both rice and paddy prices started increasing from the last week of May in the milling hubs as big millers had started buying paddy in large volume.
He said rice prices had increased by Tk 150-250 a sack in Kushtia, Pabna, Jaypurhat, Naogaon, Dinajpur, Rangpur and Nilphamari in the last two weeks.
According to Bangladesh Auto Major Husking Mill Owners Association, hybrid paddy price increased to maximum Tk 850 a maund, medium variety BRRI dhan-28 to Tk 950 and finer quality Zira/Miniket to Tk 1,100 a maund in the rice-growing hubs - a hike of Tk 120-200 per maund in the last two weeks.
Hybrid rice is now selling at Tk 38-39, BRRI dhan-28 rice at Tk 47-48, Zira or Miniket at Tk 50-54 a kg at Naogaon, Nilphamari, Kushtia, and Dinajpur mills - a Tk 3.0-4.0 hike during the period, said the husking mill owners association.
The association's Secretary KM Layek Ali recently told the FE that millers had started buying paddy in large volume for their market operation for the next two months, resulting in a price rise to some extent.
He said both the millers and the government were now procuring paddy, leading to the price hike.
As per their prediction, Mr Ali said rice production might drop slightly in many places during this Boro season.
However, the government has declared that it will buy 1.9 million tonnes of paddy, rice and wheat during this Boro crop purchase period between April and August.
Public procurement is going on in full swing as over 30 per cent of the target has been achieved in one and a half months until June 8, according to the Directorate General of Food.
It said 0.57 million tonnes of grain including 0.5 million tonnes of rice, 0.153 million tonnes of paddy and 0.073 million tonnes of wheat had been purchased so far.
The directorate raised the asking prices for both paddy and rice in this Boro season. It failed to achieve the target during the last Aman season due to higher prices of rice and paddy in the market than the government-fixed rates.
However, local procurement, as well as imports, has helped the government increase its food stock nearly to 1.1 million tonnes until June 08 which declined to a decade low of 0.4 million tonnes in April last.
However, experts said public warehouses must have a stock of at least 1.5 million tonnes of food grain to deal with any odd situation.
The agriculture ministry is expecting an all-time high of 20.5 million tonnes of rice production this Boro season from 4.87 million hectares of land.
Ninety-nine per cent of Boro harvest has been completed so far, according to the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE).
Meanwhile, prices of coarse and medium quality lentils increased by Tk 10-15 a kg; coarse lentil was sold at Tk 80-85 a kg and medium Tk 90-105 a kg.
On the other hand, onion prices showed a Tk 5.0-6.0 a kg decline last week as both local and imported Indian onions were sold at Tk 48-55 a kg on Thursday.
Traders said the price showed a decline as the government had started giving import permission (IP) from last week.
Prices of ginger increased by Tk 20-Tk 30 a kg as imported varieties were sold at Tk 120-140 a kg.
Egg prices rose further to Tk 105-110 per dozen from Tk 100-105 a dozen a week back, while it was Tk 90-95 two weeks back.
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