A section of unscrupulous traders, despite having sufficient stocks, is raising the price of rice on the coronavirus pretext. In the last few days, the per sack rice price has increased by Taka 700 at the mill gate. This has also affected the wholesale and retail markets across the country. Prices of almost all varieties of rice, both coarse and fine, have shot up by Tk 8 to Tk 10 this week compared to those in the previous month.
Despite the strict surveillance by various government agencies, rice traders say the sudden shut down of transport services, and distribution of coarse rice among the distressed by the rich has increased the demand of rice in the local market. Traders also said that the price has increased due to the additional demand of consumers amid the coronavirus outbreak. On the other hand, the consumers are blaming the traders for the abnormal price hike. They called upon the authorities concerned to take action in this regard.
Visiting different kitchen market in the capital, this reporter found Najir shail rice being sold at Tk 72 per kg, that was Tk 55 to Tk 60 a week ago, while the BR-28 was being sold at Tk 48 to Tk 50, which was Tk 36 to Tk 38 a week ago, Miniket at Tk 60 to Tk 64 instead of Tk 48.
Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) daily price statistics of commodities is also showing the price increase trend of rice. President of Dinajpur Rice Mills Owners Association, Md Mosaddek Hossain said that the price of rice has increased due to low supply of paddy.
He, however, admitted an increase in consumers’ demand.
In this rising situation, to facilitate the low earning people, the government has started selling rice at Tk 10 per kg from last week. According to the food ministry statistics, until March 15, the government had a stock of 17.51 lakh tonnes of food grains. Of the total, 14.29 lakh tonnes is rice.
Karwan Bazar’s rice trader Siddiqur Rahman said, “Rice mill owners are not sending rice as per our demand showing the cause of transport unavailability. The government has already said it will increase its vigilance to curb market corruption. Special teams and control rooms have been formed. The government has also said that strict legal action will be taken against anyone who tries to destabilize the rice market.
Golam Rahman, Chairman of Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) said, “Rice price increase is illogical as the government has adequate stock of rice. The government should bring those unscrupulous traders under strict punishment. Besides, the government should increase its vigilance so that price does not increase further”.