The government has set a target to procure a total of 1.8 million tonnes of paddy and rice during this Boro season to boost its stock in public warehouses which declined to a record low this year.
The procurement prices of rice have been increased by Tk 4.0 a kilogram while the asking rate of paddy by Tk 1.0 a kg this year, said sources.
Of the grains, 1.0 million tonnes of parboiled rice would be purchased directly from the millers at a rate of Tk 40 a kg while 0.15 million tonnes of white rice (Atap) at Tk 39 per kg.
The government would also purchase 0.65 million tonnes of paddy directly from the farmers at a rate of Tk 27 a kg.
The decision was primarily taken at a virtual meeting convened by the Food Planning and Monitoring Unit (FPMU) on Thursday. Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder presided over the meeting.
Agriculture Minister Dr Mohammad Abdur Razzaque, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Md Enamur Rahman and secretaries of the ministries concerned also attended the meeting.
A food ministry official said the procurement of Boro paddy will start from April 28 while rice from May 7 and it will continue until August 31.
The official further said the asking price of rice has been proposed to be raised notably this Boro season as the government failed to achieve its procurement target during both the last Boro and Aman seasons.
During the last Boro season, the government fixed procurement prices of paddy at Tk 26 a kg while parboiled rice at Tk 36 and white rice at Tk 35 a kg which were much lower than that of the market prices.
The government could only purchase 47 per cent of its target of 1.9 million tonnes of rice and paddy amid higher prices in the market compared to the government’s asking rates, said sources.
During the last Aman season, the directorate general of food could purchase only 0.083 million tonnes of grain against the target of 0.85 million tonnes between November 2020 and March 2021.
“A poor government purchase from domestic sources caused a decline in public stock and it also put severe impacts on mainstream markets as rice prices increased to a second-highest level in April 2021,” said agri economist and value chain expert Prof Golam Hafeez Kennedy.
“The government’s decision to raise the purchase prices of rice and paddy is logical which could encourage the millers and farmers to supply grain to the DGoF storage.”
But the volume should be increased to at least 3.0 million tonnes due to the ongoing pandemic as well as any possible natural calamity, he added.
Prof Kennedy also said the government should ensure that farmers could supply paddy easily to its warehouses.
“Rice market monitoring should also be stricter to prevent any artificial price hike to protect the consumers who were hit hard by skyrocketing prices of essentials for last one year.”
However, the country has now a stock of only 0.31 million tonnes of rice which was above 0.9 million tonnes in the corresponding period of last year.
The government has also set target to import 1.55 million tonnes of rice during this financial year amid a fall in production during the last Aman season.
A total of 0.908 million tonnes of rice have been brought in both by the private and state channels in the last four months which hardly put impact on the rice market.
Coarse variety of rice was selling at Tk 48-52, medium at Tk 56-60 and finer at Tk 66-82 a kg for the last three weeks in the city retail markets.
The current prices of coarse and medium rice are second-ever highest, according to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).