In retail markets, a kg of BR-28 rice is now selling at Tk52-55, while miniket at Tk56-65 per kg, coarse variety of Najirshal at Tk45-50 a kg and fine variety at Tk 60-65 a kg. These varieties sold at Tk40-60 per kg a week ago
Rice prices have gone up by Tk5-7 per kg in the capital over the last few days, putting an extra burden on Covid- hit consumers.
In retail markets, a kg of BR-28 rice is now selling at Tk52-55, while miniket at Tk56-65 per kg, coarse variety of Najirshal at Tk45-50 a kg and fine variety at Tk 60-65 a kg. These varieties sold at Tk40-60 per kg a week ago.
Prices of different varieties of rice have also increased in wholesale markets and rice mills.
Traders blamed supply shortage of paddy due to the prolonged flooding in the country's northern area and end of the IRRI harvesting season.
"A large swathe of paddy fields was damaged in the recent flood and farmers even could not take the crops to their homes from fields, which ultimately has created a supply shortage in rice mills," said Nasir Uddin Khan, owner of Khan Auto Rice Mill.
He said as paddy prices were high, they had to increase rice prices by Tk4-5 per kg on average.
“Currently we are buying paddy at Tk1,100-1,230 per sack, up by Tk150-250,” he added.
The rice mill owner, however, warned of further increase of prices.
The IRRI season ended recently and the next aman season will take around 45 days to come. In the gap time, rice market might become volatile further, cautioned Nasir.
“In our mills, we have a little amount of rice now– only 300 tons– which will be running out within 7-15 days," said the mill owner.
The Rice Mill Owners Association General Secretary Layek Ali said the increased prices of paddy caused the hike in rice prices.
Each mound of paddy increased by Tk100-200 on average, he informed.
“Millers do not get paddy now. Every year this situation occurs as the IRRI season ends," he said.
Moreover, panicked consumers bought a lot of rice and stocked in their homes in fear of scarcity amid the coronavirus pandemic and worsening flood situation, said the secretary.
"The situation will not come back to normal until the next aman season comes,” he said.
On Saturday, rice millers sold miniket rice at Tk2,600 per sack which was Tk2,400-2,450 a week ago. Hiked by 150-250 per sack, Katari rice increased to Tk2,500 from Tk 2,250 per sack, BR-28 increased to Tk2,450 from Tk2,156 per sack.
The millers said their stocks of coarse rice, the most sold variety, already run out.
Basir Uddin, a wholesaler at Malibag said, “Wholesale prices of rice were increasing every day as we had to buy rice at higher prices from mills.” The retail market would obviously see its impact, he added.
Meanwhile, Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) President Golam Rahman said people were now suffering from financial crisis because of the corona pandemic.
"Most people have lost their purchasing abilities. In such crucial time, increased rice price is really a burden for the lower class people" he added.
Rahman, also a former chairman of Anti-Corruption Commission, said the perception was not true that there was a shortage of paddy supply.
"It is millers and syndicate who actually increase rice prices," he claimed.
The CAB president urged the government for taking necessary actions against unscrupulous traders and said that it should increase rice distribution at Tk10 per kg for poor people.
While contacted, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder told Dhaka Tribune that although farmers had little amount of paddy, there had been no shortage of paddy in mills.
"We found that millers stocked paddy in different places including Dinajpur and Noagoan. Each warehouse has around 500 tons of paddy stored ," he added.
The minister said; "We are taking actions against them."
Sadhan Chandra informed that they would hold an emergency meeting tomorrow with millers, agriculture ministry officials, and farmers to address the situation.
"As we don't have shortage of rice, we are going to double rice supply from tomorrow through our open market sale (OMS) under the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) initiative," he added.