More than 60,000 traders in the country are running their rice and wheat business illegally as they have not taken licences from the relevant authorities, food directorate officials said.
The officials said as a large number of the traders have no licences, hence are outside the purview of the government’s regulation, it is tough to get the actual picture of food grain stock situation in the country.
‘More than 60 per cent of traders and millers of rice and wheat are running their business without licence from the food directorate and now the government is determined to bring all the traders under regulation,’ Md Nurul Islam, director at the Directorate General of Food, told New Age on Thursday.
In the country, there are more than one lakh retailers, wholesalers, rice millers and flour millers who must have to take licence from the food directorate as the law mentions that licence is mandatory for rice and wheat traders having a tonne per day transaction, he said.
Nurul said, ‘If it is possible to bring all the traders under the licensing system, it will be easier to get the actual picture of the food grain stock in the country as the submission of fortnightly report to the directorate on stock situation is mandatory for all licensees.’
According to the statistics of Directorate General of Food, 39,569 traders and millers are doing rice and wheat business across the country with the licences from the food directorate.
Of the 39,569 traders, 1,372 are wholesalers, 6,406 retailers, 406 flour mill owners, 20,544 rice mill owners, 3,992 OMS (open market sales) dealers and 6,849 fair price dealers, the data showed.
Against the backdrop of a shortfall in rice stock and the recent price hike of the staple, the government asked all the rice and wheat traders to take licence from the food directorate under the essential commodity control act-1956 within October 30.
The government blamed traders and rice mill owners for the hike in rice prices saying that hoarding of the staple by the traders pushed the prices high.
Nurul said bringing the traders under regulation was important to ensure smooth supply and steady prices of food grains in the country as well as to tackle any rice crisis.
He, however, said that to meet the deficit of rice this year the government had already imported six lakh tonnes of rice while floated tender for another 3.5 lakh tonnes.
The private sector businesses imported 7.53 lakh tonnes of rice in three months of this fiscal year, he said.
He said that the government would import 15 lakh tonnes of rice in the current financial year and it was planning to procure five lakh tonnes of Aman rice from the farmers.
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