Bangladesh is set to buy 250,000 tonnes of white and parboiled rice from Vietnam at prices $50-$90 higher per ton than the previous month, to maintain immediate availability of stock in the market, as well as reserves.
According to the food ministry proposal, the government will be importing 200,000 tonnes of white rice at $430 per ton, though the price per ton was $380 in the last month. The ministry is also planning on procuring 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice at a cost of $470 per ton, while the price had been less than $450 just a week ago.
In addition, in a recent international tender by the food ministry, parboiled rice was listed at $ 427.85 per tonne and white rice was at $406.48.
The country's rice stock has hit a 5 year low, at 193,000 tonnes.
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The food ministry's proposal to import the specified amount of rice will be placed before the cabinet committee for public purchase on Wednesday, requesting Tk908.85 crore in funds. Finance minister AMA Muhith will preside over the meeting, according to a procurement official.
Vietnamese rice prices in May hit their highest in over a year on expectations of strong demand from top importing countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines.
Cost per kg of the parboiled rice imported from Vietnam will stand at Tk39.01, while it will be Tk35.69 for white rice.
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An official of the Finance Division said that the government allocation to procure wheat and rice from domestic sources was not utilised as high prices were demanded by farmers and rice millers. The situation arose as the government had set the price of rice at Tk37.40 per kilogram, at a time when coarse rice was selling at between Tk45 and Tk50 per kilogram.
During a question and answer session at Jatiya Sangsad last week, Food Minister Qamrul Islam had said rice reserves were slightly lower compared to the same time last year.
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“The government has already planned to import 600,000 metric tonnes of rice from abroad to meet the shortfall in the crop due to premature flooding in the Haor region,” he said.
The minister had also said that, as per the plan, the government has already called for international tenders for the import of 300,000 metric tonnes of rice.
Earlier in the year, on May 23, the food minister had signed an MoU to finalise the rice imports with Vietnamese Industry and Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh in a government-to-government deal, during a Bangladeshi delegation’s visit to the country.