Bangladesh state grains buyer to import 600,000 T of rice

  • By Ruma Paul DHAKA, May 9 (Reuters) - Bangladesh's state grains buyer will import 600,000 tonnes of rice in an effort to replenish reserves and rein in prices of the staple, the agency's head told Reuters on Tuesday. Authorities are also considering waiving the tax on rice imports, said Badrul Hasan, the head of the Directorate General of Food, as local prices have hit a record high and state reserves are at a six-year low. The state buyer issued a tender to import 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice on Tuesday, its first such tender in many years, after flash floods hit fields about to be harvested, potentially wiping out 700,000 tonnes of crops. "We will import a total of 600,000 tonnes of rice, while we have already issued a tender and another tender will be issued very soon," Hasan said. He said the state agency also planned to import rice through government-to-government deals with producers such as Thailand, Vietnam and India as importing via tenders is a lengthy process. The world's fourth-biggest producer of rice with more than 30 million tonnes of rice, Bangladesh consumes almost all its production to feed its population. It often requires imports to cope with shortages caused by natural disasters such as floods and droughts. Bangladesh was ranked as the fourth-largest importer of the grain by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2011, as low stocks and soaring prices led the government to import. Since then, the state grains buyer has not imported rice although private traders have done, mostly from India. In 2015, Bangladesh's government imposed a tariff of 28 percent on rice imports to protect local farmers after private traders imported around 1.5 million tonnes of rice from India that led to a drop in prices in domestic markets. State rice reserves in government warehouses have fallen to around 350,000 tonnes, the lowest in six years. Rice is the main staple for Bangladesh's 160 million people, but wheat consumption is also rising due to lifestyle changes. Bangladesh imports about 4.5 million tonnes of wheat annually to meet growing demand, making it south Asia's top wheat buyer, while the country's output has stagnated at about 1 million tonnes. (Editing by David Evans)
  • Bangladesh seeks to import 50,000 tonnes of rice

  • Traders have until May 21 to submit bids, the Directorate General of Food has said.
     
    Traders will have to supply 60 percent of non-Basmati parboiled rice through Chittagong port and 40 percent through Mongla port, according to a tender notice by the state grains buyer. This is the first rice tender by the government this fiscal year. Meanwhile, the government is considering to a temporary withdrawal of duty on rice imports after flash floods in northeastern backwaters. After meeting with rice mill owners last week, Food Minister Qamrul Islam said that no country usually impose duty on essential commodities.
    He said that was the case in Bangladesh as well, but it was done to stop import by unscrupulous traders. "Considering the scenario, we have proposed the government to withdraw it. We believe the price manipulation can be curbed if the duty is cut," the minister told the media. He claimed Bangladesh usually have a surplus of 1.5 to 2 million tonnes of rice every year. Figures posted on the food ministry's website show that the stock in government warehouses until Apr 27 stood at 305,000 tonnes against 750,000 tonnes in the same month last year. The government plans to buy 1.5 million tonnes of grains during the Boro crop season this year, which may not be possible now after flash floods inundated crop fields in the haors or backswamps of northeast. Unseasonal downpours in early April caused the floods leaving Boro cropfields at haors (backswamps) in Sunamganj, Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Moulvibazar, Sylhet, Habiganj, Moulvibazar and Brahmanbaria districts inundated. According to figures by the food ministry, the flash floods damaged Boro crops, which would have yield around 600, 000 tonnes of rice. But unofficial estimates put the number at 2.2 million tonnes.
  • Higher yields driving rice output in Bangladesh

  • rice
    "Post contacts indicate that planted area for rice will rise to meet staple food demand and to avoid switching crops during the monsoon season.” Photo by Adobe Stock.
     
    WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Rice production in Bangladesh is expected to increase 0.4% to 34.7 million tonnes in the 2017-18 marketing year, driven by higher yields in the region, according to an April 13 report from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Meanwhile, planted area for the country is forecast down 0.3%, to 11.7 million hectares, on lower Boro and Aus rice planted area, the agency said. “Farmers are reportedly switching to more profitable crops like maize, potato, jute, pulses and oilseeds,” the USDA said. “Nevertheless, Post contacts indicate that planted area for Aman rice (planted in July/August and harvested in November/December) will rise to meet staple food demand and to avoid switching crops during the monsoon season.” Rice imports for 2017-18 are forecast at 125,000 tonnes, up from 100,000 tonnes in 2016-17, on expectations of better pricing from regional suppliers, the USDA said. “Bangladesh importers and rice millers have requested the government of Bangladesh (GOB) reduce import tariffs to ensure adequate domestic supplies, but the GOB believes domestic supplies of paddy rice in the wholesale market still are sufficient,” the USDA noted in the report. “Sources indicate that the spread between high domestic prices and lower international prices is great enough that importers are still netting profits despite the high import tariffs. Bangladesh primarily imports rice from China, Thailand, and India, with India being the largest supplier in recent years.” Wheat is the second most important food staple in Bangladesh after rice, and wheat planted area and production for the 2016-17 marketing year were revised to 415,000 hectares and 1.27 million tonnes, respectively, according to the USDA. Assuming favorable wheat conditions, the agency said the 2017-18 wheat crop is forecast to reach 1.3 million tonnes from 420,000 hectares. The wheat blast outbreak that dissuaded some farmers from planting wheat in the 2016-17 is not a factor in the upcoming crop season, the USDA said. Bangladesh fulfills approximately 75% of its wheat consumption needs through imports, sourcing lower quality wheat from Russia and Ukraine, and higher quality wheat from Canada, Australia and the United States. In the 2016-17 marketing year, Bangladesh’s wheat imports were about 5.7 million tonnes, up 21% from the prior year behind record low prices in the international market and comparatively high prices in the local market. The USDA noted that wheat imports in the 2017-18 marketing year are forecast to increase to 5.9 million tonnes, driven in part by changing food consumption habits, fast urbanization and expected lower prices in international markets.