This year’s intense rainfall has flooded rice fields across the country, causing rice output to fall below the anticipated levels.
And on the demand side, on top of 160 million mouths to feed, we are hosting over a million Rohingya refugees who also rely on this essential crop.
We have also been importing rice to meet demand, but somehow, prices have soared to unacceptable levels, and everyone keeps passing the buck, unable to pinpoint exactly what is causing the price hike.
Government officials say that we have enough rice in storage to meet our demand, but that traders and millers are hoarding rice illegally to make big bucks out of an artificially created crisis.
As recently as last month, a mobile court seized 2,700 sacks of rice stolen from government warehouses.
It is true that business is driven by the profit motive, but this kind of illegal manipulation of prices goes beyond profit-making and becomes a criminal act that results in undue hardship on the country’s poorest and neediest.
Our first priority should be to make sure that no one in this country should go hungry, especially when there is enough rice to feed everyone.
As an immediate, short-term remedy, the government should take precautions for extra security at its warehouses and do all it can to keep the price of rice low and stable.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that no Bangladeshi should hungry, and that is the noblest of goals, and it means ensuring enough rice for everyone.