Rice imports in Bangladesh hit a 32-year high in 2017-18, according a report of the US Department of Agriculture released on Friday.
The Grain and Feed annual report of USDA Foreign Agricultural Service said that the country imported 36 lakh tonnes of rice in the year which was the highest import amount since 1985-86.
Before this year, the record import of rice was in 1998-99 with 30.6 lakh tonnes, said the report, referring to national statistics of Bangladesh.
The USDA estimated that production of rice in the current crop year of 2017-2018 ending in April fell by 19 lakh tonnes to 3.26 crore tonnes against the production of 3.45 crore tonnes in the previous year 2016-2017.
The department’s estimate is also lower than that of its forecast of 3.42 crore tonnes made in July 2017.
Because of fall in rice production amid floods in some parts of the country and increase in imports, the rice price increased by 14.29 per cent this year from the previous year, it said.
The report predicted a fall in the import of rice as it projected that the rice production would increase in the next 2018-19 year as Bangladesh recovers from last year’s boro and aman crop losses caused mainly by floods.
It projected that the rice production would increase to 3.47 crore in 2018-2019 season, from May 2018 to April 2019 with three crops — boro, aus and aman.
It also projected that rice cultivation area would increase 1.7 crore hectares in the next year from 1.2 crore hectares in the current year.
The report cited favourable weather condition and farmers’ willingness to bring more land under rice cultivation for the projected increase in the production.
It said farmers increased their production expecting a good price following a year of low production.
The government’s last year procurement price of rice also promises a good price for farmers.
Many of the farmers also moved from cultivating wheat and potato to rice due to wheat blast disease last year and low potato price, the report added.