April 17, 2021

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Low tide in rice imports

There is no momentum in rice import at the government level. The same is true of private imports. This situation has arisen due to the high price of rice in India. Although the government has started importing 11 lakh tonnes of rice, one lakh 94 thousand tonnes has arrived.


On the other hand, even though the private sector has allowed the import of more than 13 lakh tonnes, so far 360,000 tonnes have arrived. In other words, despite the public-private target of importing about 25 lakh tonnes of rice, five lakh 75 thousand tonnes of rice has entered the country. As a result, experts believe that the objective of controlling the local market with imported rice has completely failed.

According to them, the Prime Minister had given permission to import the required rice in August due to low yields of boro and aman in the country. But the Ministry of Food and the Department did not take that opportunity. Today’s situation has arisen due to untimely import of rice. News related sources.

In this regard, former food secretary and prominent columnist Abdul Latif Mandal told Jugantar on Monday that everyone in the government knew that the rice yield had decreased in the last Boro and Aman seasons.

For this reason, the Prime Minister had approved the import of rice in August last year. It was not possible to import the desired rice due to various delays in the Ministry of Food and the Department. Although the Prime Minister gave them blank checks for import, they did not use them. In addition, the internal collection campaign also failed completely.

As a result, government stocks are declining and rice prices are rising. As a result, there is no way to deny the indifference of the ministry in rice import. In order to handle this situation, government collection and stocks will have to be increased quickly by lifting the import duty like in 2016.

According to the data of the Ministry of Food on March 21, the government warehouse currently has a stock of five lakh 56 thousand 71 tons of food grains. Of this, 4 lakh 8 thousand 26 tons of rice and 69 thousand 44 tons of wheat. At the same time last year, 18 lakh 31 thousand 47 tons of food grains were stored. Of this, 14 lakh 14 thousand 35 tons of rice and three lakh 18 thousand 11 tons of wheat. In other words, the stock is about 12 lakh tons less than last year.

It is learned that the import duty has been reduced by 25 per cent to 10 per cent to increase the import of cooked rice and atap rice. So that it is possible to control the high price of the local market by importing rice quickly at low cost.

Earlier, the import duty was reduced from 72.50 per cent to 25 per cent when private rice was allowed to be imported. Recently, a meeting was held under the chairmanship of Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumdar on the stock situation in government warehouses.

The Secretary of Food, Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, representatives of the Ministry of Commerce, a member of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) met in the office of the Minister. There, the Food Minister presented detailed information on rice imports. It said 320 private importers were allowed to import 1,016,500 tonnes of rice.

But even after doubling the deadline for opening LCs, many did not open LCs till February 15. Many opened LCs but did not import rice. The amount of LC openings and imports is disappointing. For this reason, the allotment of those who did not open the LC within the stipulated time has been canceled. The food secretary said the market price could not be controlled as the quantity of privately imported rice was not as expected.

Although the prices have come down at the beginning of the import decision, the prices of paddy and rice are going up again. Due to the slow arrival of rice from India, adequate stocks are not being built. Not enough OMSOs are going to be distributed to control the market price. Only a limited number of OMS activities are being conducted in metropolitan and district cities.

According to Food Department sources, LCs have been opened so far against the import of 13.75 lakh tonnes of rice through private importers, which is a little more than half of the total allocation. And three lakh 60 thousand tons of rice has come to the country. The government is in the process of bringing more than 11 lakh tonnes of rice through tender and GTZ system.

Of this, one lakh 94 thousand tons of rice has arrived in the country. Four tenders have been canceled due to increase in rice prices in the international market including India. Many are not able to give rice. While the price of rice in the world market is ৪ 420-430 per tonne, the tender price has been fixed at ৭ 398. As a result, you have to pay a loss of 30-35 dollars per ton. Due to this four tenders had to be canceled.

Besides, traders are being harassed across the border to import rice from India. As a result, rice import is not gaining momentum. In this regard, Food Secretary Moshammat Nazmanara Khanum told Jugantar on Tuesday, “We are trying to import rice.” Delays are due to rising prices in the international market and non-availability of ships to transport rice. Stocks will be increased through imports.

Asked why the initiative was not taken in time despite the approval of the Prime Minister, the secretary said, “Aman was in the paddy field at that time, it was a matter of collecting aus.” At that time, if import was taken, the farmers would be deprived of fair price.

An official of the food ministry, who did not want to be named, said there was a gap in the information provided by the agriculture ministry on rice production. Director General (DG) Shahjahan Kabir said at a seminar on food security organized by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRI) on August 9, “Even after meeting the demand, Bangladesh will have a surplus of 5.5 million tonnes of rice by the end of November.” Agriculture Minister said during the speech. Abdur Razzak said, “We have instructed the concerned people to take necessary steps to prevent this error in the future.” Hopefully, this problem will not exist in the future.

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