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May 2024

Illegal hoarding jacks up rice prices.

Illegal hoarding by rice mill owners and middlemen is responsible for the unusual increase in the price of the staple despite ample stocks.

Many middlemen and mill owners bought Aman paddy from farmers at very low prices during the harvesting season and stockpiled it in warehouses. They later created an artificial crisis by selling rice gradually in the market, say insiders.

Also, in the harvesting season, big mill owners and corporations purchased paddy from farmers and stockpiled that in warehouses not owned by them, insiders add.  

Agro-economist and researcher Jahangir Alam Khan told the Daily Sun manipulation by companies and big mill owners is responsible for the rise in rice prices in the peak season.

“They buy paddy in bulk but do not supply rice to the market. Instead, they stockpile it in unlicensed warehouses. The government’s inefficient management is responsible for the hike in the prices of rice and other essentials after this month’s general elections,” he said.

Various government agencies, including the food ministry and the food directorate general, started conducting anti-hoarding raids across the country on Monday. They found many businesses and mill owners had hoarded rice and paddy without licences.

Besides, many stored up more rice and paddy than their licences permit. Most retailers were even found to be doing business without licences.

In a drive in Nilphamari on Thursday, six businesses were fined Tk1.15 lakh for operating without food grain licences. Another in Dinajpur was fined Tk30,000 for the same offence.

On Wednesday, six businesses in Jashore’s Manirampur were slapped with a fine of Tk27,000 for not having licences. Moreover, three rice traders in Cumilla were given a penalty of Tk17,250 for not having food grain licences.

Fines during raids across the country amounted to Tk6,35,500 on Thursday, Tk5.08 lakh on Wednesday, Tk21.92 lakh on Tuesday, and Tk8,43,150 on Monday.  

Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder on Thursday warned illegal rice hoarding would result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonments.

No one, irrespective of their political connections or family status, would be able to escape prosecution if they unlawfully stockpile the staple to manipulate prices, he told a meeting with stakeholders at the Rajshahi deputy commissioner’s office.

“Some unscrupulous traders raised rice prices during the elections, and the authorities are looking for them. Monitoring across the country has been intensified.”

In line with government rules, rice sold at mill gates must now include labels specifying the manufacturing date and price, the minister said.

He emphasised that only those with valid food grain licences are permitted to deal in rice. He called on businessmen to follow the best practices to ensure price stability.

Sadhan also urged the local civil and police administration to take action against rice hoarding. QR Code

Published Date: January 26, 2024

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