The price of coarse rice has turned into a torn kite. No one can imagine how high it will go, where it will go. Not just coarse, fine and medium rice prices are now in Magadha.
The daily market list of the poor includes rice, pulses, edible oil, onions and potatoes. Now the price of all the loins except pulses is increasing. It would be wrong to just say extra, prices have risen to unusual heights.
The price of such coarse rice is now the highest in three years. Edible oil prices have skyrocketed in two months. Onions have driven centuries. The old traders can't remember whether the price of potato was ever so high or not. On the other hand, people's income has decreased by 20 percent during the Corona period. About one and a half crore people have gone below the poverty line.
A large part of the daily income of poor people is spent on buying rice. The main consumers of fine and medium rice are middle and lower middle class. Everyone is under pressure.
However, the Ministry of Agriculture still thinks that the price of rice is under control. Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzak told Prothom Alo that the price of coarse rice has gone up. The price of other rice is ok. Noting that the price of coarse rice has gone up due to increased relief among the poor due to corona and floods, the minister said the government was monitoring the situation. If the price goes up further, the supply in the market will be increased by importing.
The strategy didn't work
To control the price of rice in the market, the Ministry of Food held a meeting with the mill owners on September 29 and fixed Rs 51.50 for thin miniket rice and Rs 45 for medium rice. At that time in Kushtia the fine miniket rice was 53 rupees and the medium rice was 46 to 48 rupees. The price of coarse rice has not been fixed. The reason given was that there was no supply of coarse rice from the mill.
The effect of pricing has not been felt in the market. The reverse has increased. According to the government-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the price of fine rice has gone up by Rs 1 per kg in the last one week.
According to market research, coarse rice was sold at Tk 48 to 50 per kg, medium rice at Tk 52 to 55 and fine miniket rice at Tk 57 to 62 per kg at retail on Tuesday. Traders say these prices are the highest in three years. At this time in 2016, coarse rice rose to Rs 50 per kg. The crop was destroyed in Haor that year.
According to the consumer rights organization Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB), the price of three types of coarse rice in Dhaka last Monday was Rs 51 to Rs 55. Cab says that in 2000, the same rice was 15 to 18 rupees per kg.
Shariful Islam, a private employee, said, "It now costs Tk 3,000 to buy a 50 kg sack of rice." Vegetables have been destroyed in the floods, what about the rice market? '
There are no new programs
The food ministry says they have enough rice in their warehouses. The current stock is more than 9 lakh tons. Aman paddy harvesting will start next December. Then the price of rice will come down in the market.
Food Secretary Moshammat Nazmanara Khanum told Prothom Alo, "With what we have in stock, this year's demand will be met." And we are giving enough rice in the open market and social security. If the demand increases, it will definitely increase. '
Usually, the government increases the sale of rice in the open market only when the price of coarse rice is reduced to Tk 40 per kg. This year, the price of coarse rice has gone up to Tk 50 per kg. In addition, the new poor have increased. But the government has no additional program.
Every year from September, the government gives 30 kg of rice to 5 million families at the rate of Tk 10 per month. It has begun. But there are not a large number of new poor under it.
The food department has no plans to sell rice in the open market (OMS) by truck in big cities including Dhaka. OMS rice is being sold at Tk 30 per kg in 120 shops in the capital. Although not all shops sell rice every day. A total of 50 to 60 dealers sell rice every day.
M Asaduzzaman, former director of research at the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), told Prothom Alo that in the current situation, it is the government's responsibility to increase OMS rice sales for the poor. The damage caused by corona, floods and heavy rains needs special assistance for the rural poor.
Aman is back
Concerned people say, there is no chance to be more optimistic about Aman this time. According to the Department of Agricultural Extension, the target set for aman cultivation (about 5.7 million hectares of land) this year has been achieved. However, the people concerned said that due to the floods, the planting of aman in 25 districts from the north to the central part of the country has been delayed for about a month. Usually the yield is a bit less when it is late. Realizing this situation, there is a tendency to stockpile paddy and rice.
Former caretaker government adviser AMM Shawkat Ali thinks, "How much rice is in government warehouses, how much is produced in the country, is more important than whether there is rice in the market or not." Yes, that is dangerous news for a large number of poor people. In this case, the situation cannot be controlled by fixing the price. Increase supply as needed.