Paddy price drops but rice remains high

Aman season lacks consumer-friendly varieties

Prices of paddy have declined 10-12 per cent in the last two weeks, which has hardly been reflected in the city rice market as most of the varieties remained almost in a static trend maintaining the previous highs.

Medium and finer types of parboiled rice, which are mainly available in the city groceries, were still trading at between Tk 65 and Tk 98 a kg in Dhaka when paddy prices fell by Tk150-200 a maund, according to Bangladesh Auto Major Husking Mill Owners Association, Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) and city groceries.

Though prices of coarse varieties of rice showed a slight decline in the milling hubs, it is not reflected in the city as those were retailing at Tk50-54 a kg.

And most of the city groceries had hardly any coarse-variety rice in Dhaka's Mohammadpur, Mirpur Sections 11, 6, 10, Agargaon, Farmgate, Azimpur, Plassey, Segunbagicha, Malibagh areas, forcing several thousand buyers to purchase rice at higher prices, the FE found visiting the areas in last one month.

BAMHMOA secretary KM Layek Ali said coarse paddy witnessed a fall by a good margin as guti-swarna paddy price declined to Tk950 a maund from Tk1,150 in December.

Swarna-5 paddy was trading at Tk1,000 against Tk1,200 a month back, he said.

Finer varieties of paddy like Shampa-Katari and BRRI dhan 49 showed a slight decline---Tk50-60 a maund as those were selling at above 1,600 a maund.

He said Aman season now is the source for the major volume of coarse rice.

Swarna varieties occupied above 60 per cent of Aman fields in Rajshahi and Rangpur divisions, he added.

Supply and value chain expert Prof Md Moniruzzaman said millers bought a large chunk of paddy at a much higher rate in November last with the beginning of Aman harvest.

"So, they are now reducing prices at a much slower pace than that of decline in paddy rates", he said.

"Besides, the lack of medium and finer rice varieties in the Aman season is also a major reason for such price disparity in a peak harvesting and trading season when the government is claiming that production is very good," said Prof Moniruzzaman, who teaches agribusiness and marketing at the Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU).

He said Aman season was once the key source for finer and aromatic rice which has almost altered.

Millers are ultimate gainers of having a limited number of varieties both in Aman and Boro seasons, he added.

The Aman season now provides the key coarse variety ---Swarna, a transboundary species.

He said the government has declared that there is no rice name 'Nazirsail.' "Then which is now the key finer parboiled rice in Aman season," he asked.

The government rice research and extension agencies concerned should introduce suitable farmer-consumer friendly rice varieties for Aman season to prevent such market imbalance, he added.

Delowar Jahan, founder of Prakritik Krishi, a safe food outlet, said a near-variety of Kataribhog namely 'Shampa-Katari is sold as Nazirsail in the northern and western regions.

The quality of the rice, which might have been developed by the farmers themselves, is very good but it hasn't been recognised by the government agencies, he said.

He said two rice varieties, developed by the state-run rice agency long ago in 1993-94 are still dominating the Boro rice fields.

It is the same for Aman season as apart from Swarna, only BRRI dhan 49 has been able to occupy above 10 per cent of land.

Hundreds of varieties in the Haor and other lowlands have gradually been witnessing extinction which are highly suitable now when the climate is changing rapidly, he said.

The agency should adopt or develop such varieties and should maintain their old name instead of any number, he said.

Asked, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) director Dr Mohammad Khalequzzaman said the agency has developed few medium and finer varieties like BRRI dhan 49, 57, 70 and 80 for Aman season.

Among them, BRRI dhan 49 has captured 15 per cent of land in last one decade, he said.

He said BRRI developed similar varieties of Swarna namely BRRI dhan 93, 94 and 95, which are slowly gaining popularity.

BRRI developed few dozens of Aman varieties which should be popularisied by the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation and Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), he added.

DAE director general Badal Chandra Biswas said they are trying to popularise BINA dhan 17, BRRI dhan 75 and BRRI dhan 87-three finer varieties.

He said DAE is insisting farmers on the varieties suitable for their areas.

BADC general manager (seed) Pradip Chandra Dey told the FE that the organisation supplied 25,000 tonnes of seeds in Aman season which would increase to 28,000 tonnes next season.

He said the Corporation has also been trying to raise production of newer varieties like BRRI dhan 95.

"We are supplying seeds as per the requirement set by the DAE", he said.

He said the DAE will have to work to popularise a specific rice variety.

Meanwhile, the agriculture ministry is expecting 16.3 million tonnes of rice from the just-ended Aman harvesting season as the acreage increased to a record 5.9 million hectares as per their primary projection.

Aman season provides 37-38 per cent of the total rice the country consumes.

Date: 17-Jan-2023