It is not a good sign that the price of all rice varieties have increased in the market at a time when the boro harvest is coming in. Some may point to the untimely floods in the haors and others areas as well as scattered storms here and there. But the trend in rising rice prices began from August last year.
Even in January when the aman harvest came in, the prices of rice did not fall. In fact, the prices have been spiraling up in an unusual manner. According to the government Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the Friday market saw high prices of all varieties of rice, with Nazirshail-Minicate selling for Tk 50 to 56, Paizam-Lata at Tk 46 to 50, and coarse IRRI-Shorna at Tk 42-45. This is higher than prices in the corresponding period last year by 10.87 percent, 14.63 percent and 31.82 percent respectively.
The government has been saying that the there is more rice than the capacity of the storehouses. So why should the price of rice then be spiraling? The food minister has ordered a withdrawal of import taxes on rice in order to keep the prices stable. It is surely nothing to be proud of that a country of surplus food grain suddenly faces a deficit. There are many gaps in the equation.
Rice is such a commodity that when its price goes up, it is the poor working class that suffers the most. Necessary measures must be taken to ensure that the prices do not increase. Rather than import, stress should be placed on increasing production and ensuring sufficient stock in the government godowns. Selling adequate amounts of rice at low prices in the open market will improve the situation.
The government has to be alert to ensure that its food grain collection target is met. The minister himself blames traders of market manipulation. He should make public a full fledged report in this regard and take legal action against those involved. And if the common consumers are benefitted by the withdrawal of rice import duty, then monitoring of the importers must be stepped up.