Some 2.5 lakh tonnes of rice from Vietnam will start arriving in Bangladesh on July 10, according to senior officials of the food ministry.
Apart from the government to government import, they said, letters of credit were opened to import additional 1.5 lakh tonnes of rice in a couple of weeks.
Food department director general Bardul Ahsan told New Age on Sunday that ships loaded with rice had already started their journey from Vietnam and were scheduled to land in Bangladesh on July 10.
‘Four lakh tonnes of rice through government and private imports will be brought into the country without delay,’ Bardul said.
As the rice price in the international market was still relatively low, he expected, each kilogram of husked rice would cost no more than Tk 35 or Tk 36 inclusive of all taxes.
Describing the rice price hike as a domestic problem, Badrul said that the required amount of rice could be bought at a lower rate from India and some other countries where rice production had been good.
Another senior food ministry official told New Age that the ministry had set a rice import target of about 15 lakh tonnes from the international market.
From Vietnam, 2 lakh tonnes of non-boiled and 50,000 tonnes of boiled rice are being imported under the government to government system at the price rate of $430 and $470 per tonnes respectively.
As the government has brought the rice import tariff rate down to 10 per cent from 28, the official believed that sufficient amount of rice would be imported from India, Vietnam and Thailand.
The food ministry estimates a rice production shortfall of about 20-25 lakh tonnes this year due to flashfloods in the haor belt, early heavy rainfall and blast diseases.
The government was planning to import more rice from India and Thailand on the G2G basis, they said.
As of June 28, government warehouses had a 3.84 lakh tonnes of grain stock that included 1.65 lakh tonnes of rice and 2.19 lakh tonnes of wheat.
About 60,000 tonnes of boro rice have been procured from local market after it had begun procurement on May 2, according to food ministry data.
The consumers, especially the poor and low-income groups, are badly affected by abnormal price hike of rice across the country.
Agricultural economists blamed failure of the government’s food management for the crisis as it failed to foresee the damage of crops and its consequence.
BR 28 rice sells for Tk 54-56 per kg while Miniket sells for Tk 58-62 per kg at retail markets.
The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, however, claims that the coarse rice sells for Tk 46-48 and Miniket for Tk 56-58 per kg. Consumers said that the price of coarse rice was Tk 34-36 per kg three months earlier.
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