'Some dishonest traders and mill owners are involved in the destablisation of the market'
Rice Minister Qamrul Islam has claimed that certain quarters are hatching conspiracy to increase rice prices in the aftermath of crop losses in different regions due to flood and storms.
“An intriguing quarter is plotting to create unstable situation in the country by fabricating rice crisis. Some dishonest traders and mill owners are involved in the destablisation of the market,” the minister said at a views exchange meeting with field officials of the Directorate General of Rice (DGF) on Tuesday.
The meeting was held at the conference from of the Deputy Commissioner’s Office.
“But the plotters will not succeed as the government is well prepared to tackle such situation with formidable public rice storage,” he added.
Qamrul admitted that it would take time for the government to rein in the recent uptrend of rice prices.
He mentioned that the national rice output from the ongoing Boro season (December-May) is likely to stand at about 1.80 crore tonnes against the target of 1.91 crore tonnes because of crop losses in the storms.
However, the officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension told the Dhaka Tribune, “Around 300,000 hectares of Boro field has destroyed in the haor due to the flash flood which counts around 12 lakh tons of rice.”
In addition, a vast stretches of Boro field has damaged by the attacks of blast, which also reduces the total production of paddy in the current Boro season.
Agricultural economist Quazi Shahabuddin believes that the country will see around 20 lakh tons of Boro rice loss in this season, while the last years production was 1.87 crore tons.
According to the Food Ministry, the government’s rice reserve came down to 262,000 tons on May 7. In May last year this reserve was about 678,000 tons.
According to the food ministry’s document, the government needs at least 483,000 tons of rice by June 30 to meet the demand of different social safety net programmes including vulnerable group feeding (VGF) and Open Market Sale (OMS), especially in the Haor basins where food shortage is threatening to become acute.
To tackle the situation, the government has already decided to import a total of 600,000 tons of rice to make the reserve sufficient.
Primarily, it has put out tender to procure 100,000 tons of rice, something it has not done in the last six years.
Asked about the allegation of corruption in wheat procurement, the rice minister admitted that the government had failed to control those middlemen who were misusing the farmers’ cards.