Bangladesh to buy rice from Indian govt traders at higher rate
- Price of rice at the two private companies is $393 and $397 per tonne
- Govt-run companies selling at $433 and $436 per tonne
- Govt-run traders earning Rs 330 million more per 100,000 tonnes
The ministry of food in Bangladesh has started the process of importing 300,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from India. The government will purchase two-thirds of the rice directly from the Indian government in a government-to-government (G2G) transaction. The remaining 100,000 tonnes of rice will be bought through a global import tender.
The ministry will procure the rice from four Indian companies and the import process is in its final stage. However, Bangladesh is spending nearly US $40 more per tonne when buying from government-run Indian companies compared to the private traders.
A number of Indian media outlets have already ran stories on the discrepancy of the price between government and private companies.
A source at the food ministry said the rice the two private companies in India are selling at $393 and $397 per tonne is priced at $433.6 and $436.5 by the two government-run companies.
Bangladesh will buy 100,000 tonnes of rice each from the government-run companies and 50,000 tonnes from each of the two private companies. The food ministry and cabinet committee on public procurement has already approved the import order.
When the country is going through a dollar crisis, the government should purchase rice at the cheapest rate possible. If the price of rice is going down then they should wait for a bit and then buy rice
AMM Shawkat Ali, Former agriculture secretary
Food ministry secretary Mohammad Ismail Hossain told Prothom Alo, “The cost of rice fluctuates in every country. The talks to purchase rice through a governmental transaction began in last October. The talks were finalised in mid-December. The rate was fixed according to the export prices at the time. The global import tender was issued last December. By then, the price of rice had fallen. That’s why we could purchase rice at a lower price.”
In December last year, a six-member team led by food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder and Mohammad Ismail Hossain toured Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia to seek traders to import rice at a lower rate. But the team couldn’t secure a deal to import the requisite amount. So, the food ministry resumed the process of importing rice from India.
A source at the food ministry said that very soon the ministry will sign a deal with India’s National Co-operative Consumer Federation (NCCF) and their central reserves to purchase 100,000 tonnes of rice from each.
The directorate general of food issued a letter of intent (LoI) to both the companies on 21 December. Around 70 per cent of the imported rice will be brought via the Chattogram and Mongla ports. The remaining rice will come in trains. The companies are contractually obligated to deliver the rice within 70 days of the signing the agreement.
The talks to purchase rice through a governmental transaction began in last October. The talks were finalised on mid-December. The rate was fixed according to the export prices at the time
Mohammad Ismail Hossain, food ministry secretary
In the global import tender, the two Indian private companies proposed the lowest quotations and were given the contract. The companies are the Singapore-based Agro-Crop International Limited and Bagadiya Brothers.
Business Line, a newspaper owned by Indian media house the Hindu group, ran a report on 21 December on the difference of price between the government and private traders. They expressed shock at Bangladesh choosing to buy from the government traders over the private ones.
The report said the Indian co-operative traders are getting Rs 330 million more per 100,000 tonnes of rice. In total, the co-operatives will earn an extra Rs 660 million.
The report claimed that the government and private traders from India are selling rice at the lowest rate in the current global market and traders in Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar traders are selling at a higher rate in comparison.
Former agriculture secretary AMM Shawkat Ali told Prothom Alo, “At a time when the country is going through a dollar crisis, the government should purchase rice at the cheapest rate possible. If the price of rice is going down, then they should wait for a bit and then buy rice.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), India will be the biggest global exporter of rice in the running fiscal year. China will buy 1.35 million tonnes of rice from India and Philippines and middle-eastern countries are also showing interest to buy rice from India.
As per the food ministry, currently around 1.4 million tonnes of rice is stored at government food reserves. The government distributes nearly 200,000 tonnes of rice every month as part of its social security programmes.
After the price of rice spiked in the country, the distribution amount was increased to 300,000 tonnes. That’s why, the government is trying to purchase from external sources to replenish the reserve.
*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashfaq-Ul-Alam Niloy
Govt to import another nine lakh tonnes of rice
The cabinet committee on economic affairs in a meeting on Wednesday agreed in principle to import 9,00,000 tonnes of more rice.
Presided over by finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, the online meeting approved a proposal from the Directorate General of Food to import 4,00,000 tonnes under the direct purchase method and 5,00,000 tonnes through open tender.
In a briefing, additional secretary Md Abdul Barik of the cabinet division said that the name of importing country would be informed later.
With the latest decision taken in a fortnight’s time, the government is going to import 19,30,000 tonnes of rice and wheat.
On September 7, a meeting of the cabinet committee on government purchase decided to import 2,00,000 tonnes of non-boiled rice from Myanmar.
On August 21, the government decided to procure 5,00,000 tonnes of wheat from Russia and 3.30 lakh tonnes of rice from India and Vietnam.
India will supply 1,00,000 tonnes of non-Basmati rice and Vietnam 2,00,000 tonnes of non-Basmati rice and 30,000 tonnes of non-boiled rice.
Officials at the Directorate General of Food said that they were directed to find out alternative sources of food import to maintain the country’s food security amid apprehension of food shortage in November.
Rice prices go up again in Bangladesh
Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said his ministry will start selling rice at a cheaper rate for poor families through a food friendly programme from Sept 1.
DHAKA – People’s struggle to cope with the escalating cost of living continues as the price of rice increased yesterday for the second time in just four days.
On August 5, a day before the government hiked fuel prices by record levels, the price of coarse rice was Tk 48 per kilogramme, which shot up to Tk 50 on August 11. Yesterday saw a further Tk 2 rise to Tk 52 per kg, according to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data.
Meanwhile, price of fine rice rose to Tk 78 per kg on August 11 from Tk 75 per kg on August 5, before surging further to Tk 80 per kg yesterday.
Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said his ministry will start selling rice at a cheaper rate for 50 lakh poor families through a food friendly programme (FFP) from September 1.
The ministry has also taken measures to expand its Open Market Sales (OMS) to the upazila level to provide rice at relatively low prices. The OMS programme will also begin from September 1, he said.
“I hope there will be stability in the rice market after the beginning of the programmes,” the minister said, adding that they have sufficient stock.
While businessmen are blaming the high price of paddy, transport cost and import taxes for the price hikes, the food minister blamed the manoeuvrings of unscrupulous businessmen.
“Transport cost has increased. But the price of rice has gone up disproportionately compared to the rise in transport cost. There is no scope to deny that there are some dishonest businessmen,” he said while talking to journalists at his office at the Secretariat.
“Besides, we are now between two seasons — Boro season is already over and Aman cultivation is beginning. People in many areas are fearful of poor Aman harvest due to drought,” said Sadhan.
Meanwhile, price of rice of various brands shot up by Tk 4 to Tk 6 per kg in Kushtia’s Khajanagar — the country’s second largest rice hub.
Every day, about 200-250 trucks laden with rice go to different districts including Dhaka and Chattogram from Khajanagar.
According to locals, the price of rice has increased by Tk 4 to Tk 6 after the government hiked fuel prices.
Umar Farooq, managing director of Fresh Agrofarm in Khajanagar, said the transport cost has shot up by Tk 2,000 per truck.
Rice mill owners have to use generators due to load shedding, which has also impacted rice prices.
On June 23, the government cut import duty to 25 percent from 62.5 percent in order to encourage imports, increase supply of the staple in the domestic market, and cool down its prices.
On July 7, the food ministry had also given approval to 380 private organisations to import 10 lakh tonnes of rice in July.
Until Thursday, 34,000 tonnes was imported since the approval, said Muhammad Mahbubur Rahman, senior assistant secretary (external procurement) of the ministry.
However, some importers are choosing not to import rice due to high prices in India.
Md Shahjalal, proprietor of Jalal Auto Rice Mill, said his brother Arshad Ali, who owns Dada Agro Food Products, is among those who received approval for importing rice.
“The quality of the Indian variety is not as good as the native one. After bearing all costs, the price becomes higher than the local ones. We’ve sent our people to India but seeing the high price we have refrained from importing rice,” he said.
Saying that the price of paddy has shot up, Shahjalal also claimed that farmers are selling paddy at Tk 1,800 per maund (37.32 kg). “After processing [the paddy into rice], the cost is Tk 3,700 [per maund],” he said.
50 LAKH FAMILIES
The food minister said the government was going to introduce an FFP for 50 lakh poor families.
The families will be able to get 30kg rice per month at Tk 15 per kg. “About 4 crore people will get the benefit, if we assume each family to have four members,” he said.
He also said the government will expand its OMS programme to upazila level through 2,013 dealers and double the daily sale limit to 2 tonnes.
Each person will be able to buy 5kg rice per day at Tk 30 per kg.
How rice gene tweaking can be a gamechanger
New possibility of increasing rice yield by 40% generates much enthusiasm in Bangladesh
Bangladesh comes third among the world’s top rice-producing countries after China and India.
From less than 25% of their total available croplands, China and India grow as much rice, which together constitutes over half of the world’s annual rice output.
Due to fast diminishing croplands in Bangladesh, the country has to dedicate up to 75% of its total arable area only for growing rice, leaving the remaining 25% available for other crops to be grown.
In other words, Bangladesh’s future food security largely depends on how quickly the country embarks on newer high-growth technologies as there is practically no scope for it to expand horizontally.
Amidst such a reality, a new possibility of increasing rice yield by 40% has generated much enthusiasm among the rice science fraternity in Bangladesh.
Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS) have successfully overexpressed a rice gene, thereby boosting yield by 40%, said the world’s leading peer-reviewed academic journal Science recently.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune yesterday, Principal Physiologist of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute’s (BRRI) Dr Md Sazzadur Rahman said it is great news that gives new hope to countries like Bangladesh, where growing more rice from less land for a yet increasing population has always been a huge challenge.
“We can do the study here at BRRI and we’ll soon develop a program to see how the technique (applied by CAAS scientists) helps us grow more rice from less land,” said Dr Sazzadur Rahman, who has long been associated with the internationally collaborated “The C4 Rice Project”, whose principal goal is to gain up to 50% higher rice yield by making the plant more photosynthesis efficient.
Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants and some other organisms use sunlight to synthesize nutrients from carbon dioxide and water.
Dr Rahman says it could be a breakthrough if it happens. “We can compare it with the sd1 gene that triggered the Green Revolution.” In the 1960s, the discovery of a single gene – sd1 – helped rice scientists develop semi-dwarf rice plants with high yield potentials, thereby inaugurating the era of the Green Revolution.
In late July, the journal Science reported that by giving a Chinese rice variety a second copy of one of its genes, researchers have boosted its yield by up to 40%. The change helps the plant absorb more fertilizer, boost photosynthesis, and accelerate flowering – all of which could contribute to larger harvests.
“An extra copy of the OsDREB1Cgene in rice boosted its nitrogen intake, resulting in more efficient photosynthesis and 40% more in grain yield. The Chinese scientists who conducted the research are now looking at the possibility of doing the same for other plants like wheat,” noted Science.
A team led by CAAS crop physiologist Wenbin Zhou combed through 118 rice and maize regulatory genes, which encode proteins called transcription factors, that other researchers had previously identified as likely important in photosynthesis.
They particularly wanted to focus on genes activated when the plant is grown in low-nitrogen soil as these might help increase plant growth activity and draw in more nitrogen to produce more grain. They narrowed the selection down to 13, of which five led to a significant amount of nitrogen intake.
They then selected the OsDREB1C gene and used it in a rice variety typically used for research – some had extra copies of the gene inserted into it while others had the gene knocked out. The plants were then subjected to greenhouse conditions where the scientists found that those with extra copies of the OsDREB1c gene grew faster as seedlings while those that had it knocked out were outgrown by control plants. The results indicated that the plants with extra copies of the OsDREB1C took in more nitrogen through their roots and transported it to the shoots, and were better at photosynthesis.
The researchers then tested their method on a high-yielding rice variety and it was here that they recorded bigger grains as well as up to 40% more grain production per plot of the transgenic rice when compared to the control plants. They also noted that the plants flowered sooner than expected, which also contributed to the increased yield.
In their journal article, Wenbin Zhou and his team wrote that overexpression of the OsDREB1C gene not only boosted grain yields but also helped rice plants become more nitrogen use-efficient, thereby requiring fewer amounts of chemical fertilizers.
“Our work demonstrates that by genetically modulating the expression of a single transcriptional regulator gene, substantial yield increases can be achieved while the growth duration of the crop is shortened.”
The CAAS-led rice science breakthrough comes at a time when the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have joined hands in establishing the Sanya International Rice Resource and Breeding Center in Hainan, China.
CAAS Vice President Sun Tan and IRRI Regional Representative for Asia Nafees Meah signed the agreement on behalf of the two organizations in mid-July.
“IRRI and China, through the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, have had a long and fruitful history of cooperation. Since then, IRRI has been a steadfast supporter and partner of China’s remarkable journey to become the world’s largest producer of rice, and one of the key global players in agricultural innovation and technology,” said Nafees Meah.
Over the years, almost 35,000 rice germplasm resources from IRRI have been introduced into China, and around 54% of the current Chinese rice varieties contain IRRI genealogy. China is also a pioneer and world leader in hybrid rice development, and about 99% of China’s three-line hybrids utilize restorer genes from IRRI.
Established in 1957, CAAS is headquartered in Beijing. It oversees 42 institutes, and is the largest employer of scientific talent in agricultural science and technology in China, with over 5,000 professional employees. CAAS is credited with the development of as many as 1,000 new varieties of crops, livestock and poultry breeds.
Bangladesh to import rice privately amid rising prices, says food minister
The government has decided to import rice privately to keep the market stable, says Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder.
The decision came at a meeting of the Food Planning and Monitoring Committee on Monday amid the soaring prices of rice in the country despite the harvest season.
The meeting resolution will soon be sent to the prime minister before determining the steps to follow, the minister said.
“We’ve discussed importing the rice duty-free. We’ll ensure that the farmers, market and others related [to the rice trade] don’t face losses. The prime minister will give the final decision on the matter,” Sadhan said after the virtual meeting.
On the ongoing crackdown, he said the consumers are benefiting from the success of the drives. These operations to identify illegal rice hoarders will continue.
The spike in prices amid the Boro paddy harvest season prompted the government to initiate a crackdown on unauthorised hoarding by traders.
Rice prices fall when the products of the Boro season arrive in the market, but this time the staple is getting costlier.
Wholesalers say the mills have raised prices. The mill owners have blamed a rise in the prices of paddy this season for the spike in rice prices.
Speaking at a meeting on the collection of paddy during the Boro season at the end of last month, Sadhan had brushed aside the mill owners’ claim, alleging that they were engaged in an “evil competition”.
He had said mill owners are hoarding newly produced paddy of this Boro season and releasing rice from old stocks.
At another meeting on market monitoring last month, the minister had said the government will encourage rice imports by lowering taxes if it was necessary to ease the consumers’ suffering.
Meanwhile, India's surprise ban on wheat exports prompted rice traders to increase purchases and place unusual orders for longer-dated deliveries, fearing the world's top rice exporter may restrict those shipments as well.
In the last two weeks, traders have signed contracts to export 1 million tonnes of rice for shipments from June through September and are opening letters of credit or LCs quickly after signing deals to ensure the contracted quantity will be sent even if India restricts exports, Reuters reported.
Those forward purchases come on top of roughly 9.6 million tonnes of rice already shipped out of India this year - in line with record 2021 shipments - and may reduce the amount of grain available for other buyers during the coming months as loading schedules fill.
"International traders pre-booked for the next three to four months and everybody opened LCs to ensure business continuity," said Himanshu Agarwal, executive director at Satyam Balajee, India's biggest rice exporter.
Overseas buyers are looking for Indian rice because it is far cheaper than rivals, said BV Krishna Rao, president of the All India Rice Exporters Association.
Indian 5% broken white rice is offered between $330 to $340 per tonne on a free-on-board (FOB) basis, significantly lower than Thailand's $455 to $460 a tonne and Vietnam's $420 to $425, dealers said.
Thailand and Vietnam are not able to compete with India and they are trying to explore ways to support prices, Thailand's government has said.
If India restricts exports, global prices could jump sharply, said a New-Delhi-based dealer with a global trading house.
"Indian rice is more than 30% cheaper than other destinations. Poor buyers in Asia and Africa would be forced to pay very high prices if India restricts exports. That's why there is a rush to buy Indian rice," the dealer said.
India exported a record 21.5 million tonnes of rice in 2021, compared with combined exports of 12.4 million tonnes by Vietnam and Thailand.
Rice import duty to be cut by 18%
Govt floats more tenders to import rice, wheat in desperate bid to bring down local prices
No sign of stability in rice market
Private sector import hits 4-year low as 28pc import duty discourages importers amid rising price in global market
Asia Rice-Strong demand helps prices extend gains
International rice prices soar as Bangladesh seeks import
Coarse rice price soars
42pc rise in a year; govt to import 3 lakh tonnes of rice on urgent basis
A jump in subsidy to contain rice price
For the agricultural sector, the subsidy was cut by Tk3,000cr to Tk9,000cr in the revised budgetary outlay as fertiliser prices fell in the international market
SL Agritech signs Bangladesh trial planting deal for hybrid rice
HYBRID RICE producer SL Agritech Corp. has signed a memorandum of agreement with Bangladesh’s EnP Solutions Ltd for trial production there of one of its seed varieties.
Budget for Next Fiscal Year: Bigger subsidy on food likely
Govt to go for rice import, expand OMS to ease pressure amid huge crop loss
Rice reserves must be upped
Bangladesh gets lowest rice import tender
Bangladesh received a lowest offer of $406.48 a tonne CIF liner out from Singapore-based Agrocorp International in a tender that opened on Sunday to import 50,000 tonnes of white rice, officials at the state grains buyer said.
Five traders competed for the tender issued by the Directorate General of Food at a time when local rice prices have reached record highs and state reserves are at 10-year lows.
Other offers in a tonne CIF liner out were: LDC $413.13, Olam $413.90, Phoenix $421.00 and Desh Trading $446.70, the officials said.
One trader said the origin of the lowest offer was not known but was likely to be from Vietnam.
A Bangldesh delegation was in Vietnam last week to finalise imports of the staple grain in a government-to-government deal, Food Ministry officials said.
Vietnamese rice prices this week hit their highest in over a year on expectations of strong demand from top importing countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines.
The state grains buyer earlier this month said it would ship in 600,000 tonnes of rice, initially issuing two tenders for a total of 100,000 tonnes of rice, its first such tenders since 2011.
In its first tender that opened last week, it received a lowest offer of $427.85 a tonne CIF liner out from Dubai-based Sukhbir Agro Energy to import 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice.
Bangladesh rice prices break world record
Bangladeshis buy the poorest quality of rice at the highest prices in the world.According to the government, a kilogramme of a coarse variety of rice is being sold at Tk 48, setting a new record in the country's economy. Another South Asia nation, Pakistan, stood second on the chart, but its nationals buy the same variety of rice at Tk 10 less than in Bangladesh. Analysing information from three agencies, it has been observed that rice prices have consistently been rising for the last one year. According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), in the past month, the price of rice has increased by 11 per cent and prices have doubled in the past one year. Economists say this is due to wrong policies and not taking proper steps in this regard. Asked about the rise in rice prices, food minister Quamrul Islam did not make any specific comment on it. "I've just come from Vietnam after signing an agreement for rice procurement. I am unable to comment on the price of rice in Bangladesh right now. International rates of rice According to a daily report published by the food ministry, Vietnam is now selling rice at the cheapest rates in the world. The price of a kilogramme of rice is Tk 33. 62 there. In neighbouring India, the price of a kilogramme of rice is Tk 34, Tk 37.81 in Thailand, and Tk 38. 54 in Pakistan. Outside this region, the world's largest rice producing countries -- China, Indonesia, and the United States -- do not export rice to international markets. Rather, they import rice. In the international rice market, rice is being sold at the highest price in Bangladesh. But, it is also true that rice prices are on the rise internationally as well. According to 'Agri Market', a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report, in the past week, rice prices have risen in all countries except Vietnam. Thailand has increased rice prices by 5.77 per cent, while India has raised rice prices by 1.4 per cent, and Pakistan by 2 per cent. According to the FAO's April report, world rice production will decline by 6 million tonnes this year compared to last year. As much as 173.3 million tonnes of rice was produced in 2015-116 fiscal. It is expected to go down 2 million tonnes this year. Rice prices break all record International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said rice prices rose to Tk 38 per kg in October, 2016 in Bangladesh. During the last caretaker government regime in 2008, a kilogramme of rice price shot up to Tk 36 per kg. Then, the rice prices started falling after bumper production of rice in 2009 that brought the rice price down to Tk 26 per kg in 2012. The rice prices continued to increase again after the Bangladesh Awami League came to power for the consecutive second term in 2014. Although keeping the rice price within the reach was one of the main election promises of the AL in 2014, the rice price rose to Tk 30 per kg and it went up to Tk 33 in 2015. *This piece, originally published in Prothom Alo Bangla print edition, has been rewritten in English by Toriqul Islam.
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Also Read- Food minister: Price of coarse variety rice will not further increase
However, the officials of the Department of Agricultural Extension told the Dhaka Tribune, “Around 300,000 hectares of Boro field has destroyed in the haor due to the flash flood which counts around 12 lakh tons of rice.” In addition, a vast stretches of Boro field has damaged by the attacks of blast, which also reduces the total production of paddy in the current Boro season. Agricultural economist Quazi Shahabuddin believes that the country will see around 20 lakh tons of Boro rice loss in this season, while the last years production was 1.87 crore tons. According to the Food Ministry, the government’s rice reserve came down to 262,000 tons on May 7. In May last year this reserve was about 678,000 tons. According to the food ministry’s document, the government needs at least 483,000 tons of rice by June 30 to meet the demand of different social safety net programmes including vulnerable group feeding (VGF) and Open Market Sale (OMS), especially in the Haor basins where food shortage is threatening to become acute. To tackle the situation, the government has already decided to import a total of 600,000 tons of rice to make the reserve sufficient. Primarily, it has put out tender to procure 100,000 tons of rice, something it has not done in the last six years. Asked about the allegation of corruption in wheat procurement, the rice minister admitted that the government had failed to control those middlemen who were misusing the farmers’ cards.
Bangladesh floods cut potential 700,000 T from rice harvest
Govt to cut rice import duty
Govt to cut rice import duty5/3/2017 The New Nation (Bangladesh) Dhaka, May 3 -- In the backdrop of huge damage of boro paddy due to flash flood in the north-east haor regions, the government is set to slash import duty on rice, sources said. The Directorate of Food has recently sent a proposal to the Food Ministry recommending the duty cut by 14 percent. According to the proposal, the Department apprehended losses of six lakh tonnes of Boro rice, which was unpredictable. It suggested bringing down the import duty to 10 per cent from the existing 28 per cent. According to the Food Ministry official, the proposal has already been sent to the Commerce Ministry and it would go to the NBR through the Ministry for maintaining the formalities. 'We have sent a proposal to the Food Ministry for cutting rice import duty as the rice price has increased in the local market because of a "real" and "psychological" impact of flash flood on the market,' said Md Badrul Hasan, Director General of the Food Directorate. The government imposed import duty on rice in May 2015 for the protection of local farmers as the prices of the item went down below the production cost due to import of lower-priced rice,' he said. Although losses of six lakh tonnes of rice is being apprehended, there will be no shortage of rice, he said. 'But it has a psychological impact which might push up the price of the item in the local market.' It has not yet been decided whether the public or the private sector would import the rice. 'If we can import, the psychological impact could be managed and the prices of rice will remain stable,' he said. Badrul Hasan, however, said, generally the prices of rice start to decrease in the market from mid April every year as the boro rice produced in haor region arrives in the market. But this year the price of rice increased in mid April as the flash flood damaged crops in haor areas, he added. According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh data, the price of coarse variety of rice in last one year increased by 31.82 per cent to Tk 45 a kg from Tk 34 a kg. The coarse variety of rice was selling at Tk 43-45 in the city markets on Tuesday. The price of BR-28 rice and Miniket rice continued to increase and coarse variety of Miniket rice was retailing at Tk 52-54 a kg, while its fine variety was selling at Tk 55-57 a kg in the city markets. BR-28 rice was retailing at Tk 48-52 a kg.
In threat to food security, Bangladesh moves to burn grain for fuel
Bangladesh plans to begin turning some of the grain it produces into ethanol to make its fuel greener – but economists and experts warn the move could hurt food security in a country that is already a grain importer.Energy ministry officials said in a gazette notification early this year that the country will begin using maize, broken rice grains and molasses to produce ethanol to mix with petrol fuel at a 5 percent ratio. But in a heavily populated country that produces relatively little in the way of climate-changing emissions and that already relies on imports of maize and other grains, the result could be rising food prices, especially for the poor, economists, business leaders and environmental experts warned. Moshiur Rahman, who convenes the Bangladesh Poultry Industries Coordination Committee, called the move to begin using grain for fuel “suicidal”. Much of Bangaldesh’s maize is used to feed animals, including chickens. But the country grows only half of the maize it needs, importing the rest from the United States and Brazil, he said, which means rising demand could mean rising prices. “Maize prices will go up if it is used for ethanol production. The price of eggs and chicken will go beyond the reach of common people,” Rahman warned. He said growing concerns about food security have led other countries – including China – to stop giving permission for new biofuel projects. Food to fuel According to a study by Bangladesh’s energy ministry, the country could produce 18 million liters of ethanol a year, or about 75,000 liters each working day. That would require 60,000 tonnes of broken rice each year – about 3.5 percent of the country’s total production. Alternately the county could produce the ethanol with 62,000 tonnes of maize (2.8 percent of production) or 97,000 tonnes of molasses (nearly all of the country’s production). The study warned that if the government scales up ethanol production beyond those levels, it will raise demand for grain to the point that it could hurt food security. But junior energy minister Nasrul Hamid told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone that Bangladesh needs to go for greener and more varied fuels in the future, like other nations. “So, we are exploring the possibility of using bio-ethanol with other fuels. You can’t remain out from the global trend of energy use,” he said. He confirmed the ministry plans to give permission for ethanol production, and then would judge from early experience whether to scale up the experiment. “Yes, we are going to give permission for bio-fuel soon. Let’s see what happens first. Its impact on food security will be considered then,” Hamid said. But others warn that Bangladesh has decided to burn food grains to produce ethanol without taking into consideration the food security of its 160 million people. That is a particular worry in a low-lying country that faces severe climate change threats, including loss of crops and crop land to worsening salt-water intrusion, droughts, floods, storms, sea level rise and erosion. Already many people face daily hunger and can manage meals only once or twice a day, experts say. Last year, Bangladesh ranked in the top 25 percent of the world’s most hungry countries, according to the Global Hunger Index of the International Food Policy Research Institute. Bangladesh today produces about 1.8 million tonnes of broken rice, about 100,000 tonnes of molasses and less than half the 6 million tonnes of maize it needs each year, according to the country’s Energy Ministry. Besides being used as livestock food, maize is eaten by poorer people, mixed with flour as a cereal or made into biscuits. Lower-income people also eat broken rice for breakfast and make it into cakes. But prices for the grains are rising. A kilogram of coarse rice is now being sold at 42 taka (50 cents) in Dhaka, up 25 percent in price from a year ago, according to the government Trading Corporation of Bangladesh. Rising food prices are a major concern, with a growing portion of people’s earnings now being spent on food. The country’s food inflation rate in February was 6.8 percent, up from a record low of 3.8 percent a year ago. About 13 percent of Bangladesh’s people fall below the national poverty line of $2 per day, according to World Bank data. The country produces about enough rice to meet demand but imported 4.5 million tonnes of wheat last year to meet demand for that grain, according to the country’s food ministry. Wrong-headed decision? Despite rising demand for food, Khan Md Aftabuddin, managing director of Sunipun Organics Ltd. – the company that first applied for government permission for ethanol production – said turning grain into fuel would not pose any threat to food security for Bangladesh. He said the byproducts of ethanol production could be used as poultry or fish food, and that more maize could be grown on delta islands if demand for it rises. “If needed, we will produce maize in char lands of the country as raw material for our plant,” Aftabuddin said. Bangladesh needs to turn to renewable energy to keep its environment clean, he said. But Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah, secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, said creating fuel using maize – which is increasingly being imported to make up for rice and wheat shortfalls – doesn’t seem to make sense. “I do not see any valid reason for using maize and broken rice for ethanol production,” he said. M. Asaduzzaman, a fellow of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies and a member of the country’s climate change negotiations team, said he also disagreed with the move toward producing ethanol from grain. “We have tremendous difficulties in livestock nutrition. If maize is now used to produce ethanol, the cost of livestock production will go further up causing further animal protein deficiency,” said Asaduzzaman, also a former vice chairman of the International Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change. “This is a wrong-headed decision,” he said. Bangladesh’s per capita carbon emissions are tiny compared to those of more developed countries, and should not be as great a concern as protecting food security, he said. “When we can’t meet basic nutritional need, we don’t need to go for clean energy,” he said. Khondaker Golam Moazzem, a research director at the Centre for Policy Dialogue, a Dhaka-based think tank, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that he is concerned that ethanol production, once started, could be scaled up in the future, particularly if oil prices eventually rise. That could lead to more demand for maize and for land to grow it. “Then, staple food production will be hampered since Bangladesh suffers from acute farmland scarcity,” he warned.
No let-up in rice price hike despite record Aman output
No let-up in rice price hike despite record Aman output
Bangladesh Triples Rice Production with Help of Nuclear Science: Conference on Technical Cooperation
Irradiating seeds has proven to be a ready to use and flexible way to develop better crops”Binadhan-7 is one of several rice varieties developed by the scientists at the Bangladesh Institute for Nuclear Agriculture (BINA), with the support of the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It was developed through a process using radiation called plant mutation breeding (see Plant mutation breeding), and has since become a popular rice variety in the northern part of the country where it has helped farmers and workers stabilize their income and find year-long employment. Globally more than 3 000 plant varieties have been developed and released using plant mutation breeding techniques. These mutant varieties will continue to play a key role in meeting global food demands as the world's population rapidly grows and environmental conditions become more challenging. They can also help in averting famine, a major global problem recently highlighted by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Many scientists around the world turn to plant mutation breeding because it allows them to harness a natural process toward more quickly homing in on and cultivating desirable characteristics in plants,” said Ljupcho Jankuloski, Acting Head of the Plant Breeding and Genetics Section of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture. “This method saves time and money for researchers, while resulting in the kinds of plants farmers need to cost-effectively keep food on the table and money in their pockets. For many farmers, these plant varieties are a game changer.”
Plant mutation breeding
‘Seawater dents Bangladesh’s rice production’
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