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Belal Muntasir

Despite having huge stock, a group of unscrupulous traders are making rice market unstable by hiking the prices after the national election held on December 30, 2018.
The corrupt traders including mill owners and wholesalers made the forgery through slowing down the supply of all types of rice from January 2, which led to an unnatural price escalation.
As a result of price hike, the middle and lower income people, especially those living hand to mouth are suffering a lot.
According to the Ministry of Food data released last December, the country witnessed surplus rice production last year when food production was 3.62 crore tones.
Based on the population of the country, Bangladesh needs only 2.91 crore tones per year that means minimum 71.79 lakh tones rice remained as surplus food, data says.
On the other hand, newly appointed Food Minister Shadan Chandra Majumder on Thursday said there is no food deficit in the country.
The last season had bumper production of rice that is why there is no reason behind price hike, he said in a meeting with mill owners and traders at the ministry.
New Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi was present there and told that the country is now self-sufficient in food production.
“We have also sufficient rice stock. So, no tension is supposed to be in our mind at all,” he added.
On the occasion, Tipu Munshi urged the rice millers and wholesale traders across the country not to indulge in any kind of illegal activity that might lead to soaring of rice price affecting the members of lower-income group.
However, while visiting capital’s largest wholesale market for rice at Karwan Bazar on Friday, it was found that prices of all types of rice have been increased by Tk 5-6 per kilogram over the last weeks.
The price of miniket rice has been increased by Tk 5 to Tk 55 per kilogram, Nazirshail also by Tk 5 to 65, BR-28 by Tk 6 to Tk 38 from Tk 32 in the wholesale market.
Prices of all other types of rice including Guti Shorna, Coarse have also increased again compared to last month’s price.
“We have to count minimum 200 to 500 taka extra in every 50 kg sack rice while buying from Mill owners. As a result, we are forced to sell at high price to retailers,” Md Sohel, a wholesaler at Kawran Bazar, told Bangladesh Post.
“Even sometimes, we do not get products after giving orders in rice mills,” he added.
However, the price of 50 kg sacks of Miniket rice rose by TK 200 and being sold at Tk 2700, Nagirshail by TK 700 to 3200, BR-28 by Tk 300 to 1900, Coarse by TK 250 to 2100, Katarivog by Tk 400 to TK 4400 and Polao rice increased by TK 500 to TK 4500, wholesale traders informed.
However, keeping pace with wholesale rate the rice price has gone up at retail level throughout the country, they said.
Jashim Uddin, another wholesaler, said currently the rice price is unusual, which is not normal.
“We heard excuse of not getting paddy from mill owners,” he said.
“Such type of excuse is unacceptable,” Jasim said adding that this is the full season for paddy harvesting.
He believes that there might be fraudulence of mill owners that is pushing lower income people to sufferings.
While asked, General Secretary of Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners Association KM Layek Ali said the prices of rice are not hiked totally.
“We are selling at government fixed price,” he told Bangladesh Post on Friday evening over phone.