According to the notification, the procurement drive will start on April 26 and continue until August 31
The government will procure 1.15 million tons of rice and 600,000 tons of paddy in the upcoming boro season as part of its plan to tackle the coronavirus crisis.
The Directorate General of Food under the food ministry recently issued a notification in this regard.
“Usually we purchase the paddy and rice on a regular basis every season to protect farmers’ interests and help unprivileged people buy the essential items at subsidized prices,” said Anisuzzaman, a director at the directorate.
“However, this time we have increased the procurement target to a great extent considering the expanded social safety programs amid coronavirus crisis,” he said, adding that the authorities had procured around 1,400,000 tons of paddy and rice on the whole last year.
According to the notification, the procurement drive will start on April 26 and continue until August 31.
It notes that the government will purchase 1,000,000 tons of boiled rice at Tk35 per kg and 150,000 tons of non-boiled rice (Atap) at Tk36 per kg, while a kg of boro paddy of 600,000 tons will be bought at Tk26.
Meanwhile, the government has expanded rice sales at subsidized prices through its open market sales (OMS) program across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic. Besides, it is now providing rice to the poor as relief in the ongoing crisis.
As the duration of and fallout from the virus lengthen, experts believe the social safety programs of the government such as relief or OMS sales may require to be extended, for which the government will need good stocks of rice.
Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumdar has stated that the government has enough stocks of rice at present.
"There are around 14 lakh tons of rice in government warehouses. Besides, new collections are coming within15 days,” he told reporters recently.
The minister hoped that the authorities could cover more than a year with the rice to be collected this season. “So there is nothing to worry about rice supply," added Sadhan.
Supply shortage in markets
A visit to several markets in the capital revealed almost empty retail and wholesale rice shops.
Traders said that the market was now facing a supply shortage of rice, which had pushed up its price.
"People bought rice in huge amounts fearing that the stock of rice might run out because of the coronavirus crisis. The panic, basically, led to a supply shortage in the markets,” said Ahmed Uddin, a Malibagh-based rice wholesaler.
“We contact mill owners but they say they have little rice in their stocks,” he said, and added that the mill owners sometimes refused to accept their buying orders.
Ahmed Uddin claimed the millers had increased the price of rice at least by Tk8-10 per kg.
Mobarak Hussen, a retailer in Rampura, said that panic had gone down but the markets were almost empty.
Nasir Uddin Khan, owner of Khan Rice Mill, told Dhaka Tribune that the mill had increased prices owing to a shortage in supply.
He said that supplies of paddy were low at present and so shortages of rice could not be overcome in one or two days.