The prices of rice continued to rise in the city though there was a bumper production of the Boro paddy recently in the country.
Despite a surplus production of the crop against the government target of 2.04 crore tonnes, the increase in the prices has pushed fixed-income people into difficulties amid loss of work and income due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Experts termed the price hike of the staple food ‘unusual’ at this time as the crop was harvested just a month ago, saying that a dishonest quarter was involved in the manipulation.
Food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder accepted that a quarter was trying to manipulate the rice market, adding that the government remained vigilant in this regard.
He also said that high prices of the boro paddy might also be a reason for the increase in the rice prices.
The prices have gone up by Tk 3–5 a kilogram in last 10 days on the city market.
Retailers said that the prices of all varieties of rice rose by Tk 100–200 per bag of 50 kg on the wholesale market.
Wholesalers, in turn, said that the prices were raised at the mill gate.
The prices of the coarse varieties of the staple grain, consumed by the poor classes of people, increased most — Tk 5 per kg — and the item was selling for Tk 40–48 a kg in the city on Friday.
The standard variety of BR-28 rice was selling for Tk 48–50 a kg and the fine variety for Tk 50-54 a kg in the capital on the day.
The fine variety of Miniket rice was selling for Tk 56–65 a kg while Najirshail, another fine variety, was retailing at Tk 60–65 a kg.
‘The rice price hike at this time is completely unacceptable as the crop was harvested just a month ago in the country,’ former president of Bangladesh Consumers Association Ghulam Rahman told New Age on Thursday.
He viewed that it was an organised manipulation and the government should identify the quarter involved in the wrongdoing.
The food minister said that the prices of rice increased a bit on the market as this year farmers received fair prices for their produce.
‘Moreover, a quarter has remained active in the market who are trying to manipulate the prices to make extra money as the market monitoring is being hampered due to the COVID- 19 calamity,’ the minister said.
If necessary the government will start a drive in the markets to keep the staple prices stable, he said.
Md Abul Khayer, the proprietor of Sonar Tori Rice Agency at Mohammadpur Krishi Bazar in the capital, told New Age that the prices of rice increased at the mills.
He said that the mill owners increased the prices by Tk 50–100 in last 10 days.
Md. Mahmud Hasan Raju, advisor to Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners Association, said that high paddy prices were one of the reasons for the high prices of rice on the market.
He said that some government decisions were also responsible for the price hike as a number of policies created obstacles for hundreds of husking mill owners to continue their business while a few businesses captured the rice market.
Mahmud Hasan is the owner of National Rice Mills in Thakurgaon.
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