W. According to the report sent by the Ministry of Food, the country has 5 lakh 17 thousand tons of rice and 6 lakh 26 thousand tons of paddy in the private sector.This month’s report of the Food Department shows that the private sector has about 6 lakh tonnes of rice stocks. But does the stock of rice in the country decrease so much in March-April every year? About 2.5 million tons of rice is traded in the market every month. If the private rice stocks are 6-7 lakh tonnes, then the question remains as to where the rest of the rice comes from.The BIDS and EFPRI calculations indicate to us that there is no rice crisis in the
country. Traders are mainly selling rice at higher prices, taking advantage of low government stocks.
AMM Shawkat Ali, former Agriculture Secretary
A study by the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has revealed a big difference between the situation at the field level and the government’s accounting of rice stocks at the private level. It has been said that the average storage of rice at the private level in January is about 61 lakh tonnes. In April, it increased further to 61 lakh 72 thousand tons.
AMM Shawkat Ali, an adviser to the former caretaker government, told Prothom Alo that the private sector’s account of rice stocks from the Food Department was sending the wrong message to the government about the food situation. This is because the rice owned by large and medium farmers and rice warehouses and peddlers does not come as theirs. The Food Department does not have the manpower to verify whether the rice mill owners and traders are giving correct information in the form sent by the Food Department.
The Department of Food takes stock of rice stocks from traders in specific forms. There is no system to verify whether the traders give correct information or not.
The former agriculture secretary said, “The BIDS and EFPR accounts indicate to us that there is no rice crisis in the country.” Traders are selling rice at higher prices, mainly because of low government reserves.
BIDS and EFPRI conducted a survey last year funded by the Ministry of Food to review the stock situation of rice in the private sector. The title of the survey is ‘Methods of calculating rice stocks in the private sector to create an effective food planning and management’. The survey has not yet been officially released. The survey reviewed rice stocks in the private sector at different times in 2016 and 2017. However, imported rice was not included in the survey. Because, in those two years, the country did not import much rice.
Food ministry officials said that according to the Food Storage Act amended in 2012, they took stock of stocks from all rice mills, rice wholesalers and rice warehouse owners in the country through a specific form.
According to a survey by BIDS and EFPRI, rice stocks in the country are usually lowest in March and April. However, stocks increased when boro paddy was harvested in Haor in April. Rice stocks do not fall below 5 million tons in any month. However, whatever the stock account, the people of the country have to buy rice at very high prices during the Corona period. The market price of coarse rice is still Rs 48-50 per kg, which is the highest since 2016.
Food Ministry Secretary Moshammat Nazmanara Khanum told Prothom Alo, “The way the Food Department collects data on private stocks may not account for all stocks.”