Rice imports jumped in the current fiscal due to what officials said huge production shortfall.
Already 34.55 lakh tonnes of rice were imported by the government as well as merchants between July 2017 and March 21, according to the records of the Food Ministry.
But only 1.3 lakh tonnes of rice was imported throughout fiscal 2016-17, shows Food Ministry records.
The previous fiscal’s entire amount was imported by the private sector, Food Ministry officials told New Age.
Agriculture economists think that imported rice helped stabilize the domestic rice market.
But the imports dashed the government’s food security claims, they said.
They said frequent import of rice and wheat spending foreign exchange was far from healthy symptom for domestic cereal production programme.
They said that domestic rice output dropped in all the three seasons, aus, aman as well as the boro due to recurrent floods between April and August.
Blast attacks also took a toll on this fiscal’s rice production, said agricultural officials.
According to Bangladesh Bank statistics, increase in rice imports began in July 2017.
In July Tk 586 crore worth of rice was imported, in August Tk 1,054 crore was spent on rice imports, in September it was Tk 1,272 crore, in October the import in money term rose to Tk 1,484 crore, in November to Tk 1,766 crore and but in December declined to Tk 1,468crore, reveals BB data.
In 2016-17, rice worth Tk 88 crore was imported.
Agriculture economist and Barisal based University of Global Village vice chancellor Jahangir Alam Khan told New Age attributed this fiscal sharp rise in rice imports to production shortage caused by floods.
After the next boro, the imports might drop he said, only if the crop provides the needed output.
In April, farmers in the haor belt would start reaping the boro crop, said Jahangir Alam, a former Bangladesh Agricultural Economists Association president.
Golam Hafiz Kennedy, who teaches agricultural finance at Bangladesh Agriculture University said that rice import by Bangladesh was not a good sign.
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