Bangladesh to import 1 lakh tonnes of rice from India, Singapore

The government is going to procure 1 lakh tonnes of non-basmati rice to bolster the supply chain of the country’s main staple food against the backdrop of high inflation.

Two suppliers — one each from India and Singapore —have been selected by the food ministry through international tenders for supplying the amount of rice equally – 50,000 tonnes from per supplier – at a total estimated cost of Tk 423 crore, said the food ministry officials.

They said that the food ministry had submitted proposals to the cabinet committee on government purchases in the past week seeking approval to give import order to the suppliers.

The cabinet committee chaired by finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal is likely to review the food ministry proposals in a meeting today.      

The food ministry selected Indian company Bagadiya Brothers Private Limited as it quoted lowest $393.19 for per tonne in an international tender participated by a total of four suppliers.

In another international tender, Singapore-based Agrocrop International Private Limited quoted lowest $397.03 for per tonne rice among three bidders to be selected by the food ministry.

The rice procurement is a part of the government initiative to collect 30 lakh tonnes of rice for the current financial year ending in July this year.

Of the overall collection target, one third will be imported while the rest from local rice growers.

According to the ministry officials, they have already struck deals on the government-to-government basis to import 7.3 lakh tonnes of rice.

They said that the rest of the amount would be imported through competitive bidding. Bangladesh’s rice import stood at 9.87 lakh tonnes in FY22.

Rice from the Indian company would cost Tk 42.07 per kilogramme and Tk 210 crore would be required for the total consignment while that from Singapore Tk 42.68 per kg and Tk 213 crore for the total consignment, said the food ministry officials.

One kilogramme coarse variety of rice was selling at Tk 46 to Tk 52, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh’s daily update on retail market prices of essentials on Tuesday.

Despite claims by the government that the country has surplus amount of rice, the prices of the staple had been increasing unusually since 2020 pushing fixed-income people into difficulties.

Volatilities in price of rice and other essentials kept the inflation close to double digits over the past six months.

Against the backdrop of unusual hike in rice prices, the government slashed the rice import duty but prices continued to rise.

On Saturday, the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute revealed a study report blaming millers and big corporations for destabilisation of the rice market.

‘Millers make a profit of at least Tk 8 to Tk 14 on the sale of per kilogramme of rice,’ said BRRI director general Md Shahjahan Kabir while sharing the study findings in Gazipur.

On June 1, 2022, food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder blamed Square Group, Pran Group, City Group, Akij Group, Bashundhara Group and ACI Group for the price hike of rice during the harvesting period.

Date: 04-Jan-2023