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February 2024

Rice prices spiralling once again

With the harvesting of Aman crops, the prices of BR-28, Paijam, Guti and aromatic rice were supposed to decrease. Instead, the rice prices have gone up by Tk 2-8 per kg in the last 10 days in Dhaka’s kitchen markets.

Apart from the newly-harvested rice varieties, the prices of miniket and najirshail rice have also surged in the past three days.

According to the wholesalers, they are compelled to source rice at high prices, while the millers claim that the price of paddy has risen due to the high production costs.

Even though the newly-formed government announced arresting the price hike of daily commodities, the opposite happened, said a rice wholesaler in Kawran Bazar asking not to be named.

“We thought that the price would fall with the newly harvested rice — we were not ready for such a hike,” said Abu Raihan Joglu, proprietor of Matlab Rice Agency.

The rice wholesalers are yet to find out why the prices took a leap after the election on January 7, he said.

Kamal Sardar, proprietor of Mokbul Rice Agency in Mirpur 11 kitchen market, usually sources rice from five districts — Kushtia, Chapainawabganj, Naogaon, Sherpur and Dinajpur — depending on price.

However, this time, the price has increased across all the districts.

“We don’t know whether we have become victims of a syndicate. On the other hand, our regular customers have been blaming us for the sudden rise. It’s been difficult to make a profit from them.”

Kamal urged the authorities to ensure strict monitoring and accountability of the millers, who are taking high prices from them.

Last week, Abdul Mabud of Nahid Rice Agency in Shantinagar paid Tk 112 for a kilogram of aromatic rice at Babu Bazar in old Dhaka. That same rice sold for Tk 122 yesterday.

The BR-29 rice’s price went up Tk 3 since last week to Tk 58 a kg, while the miniket variety’s price jumped by Tk 10 to Tk 68 a kg in seven days, he said.

This has heaved further pressure on the low-income group, who have been grappling with a cost of living crisis for more than a year now.

“This is nothing but an added burden on the poor,” said Noorjahan Begum, who had to spend Tk 100 more for the BR-29 rice that her family consumes than she did 10 days ago.

Md Tipu, who runs a mess in Kawran Bazar, is wondering how can continue his operations with the way the prices are spiralling of almost all food items.

“Although I am paying more for the groceries, I cannot abruptly demand extra money from my customers,” said Tipu, who feeds 60 people two times a day with a budget of Tk 120 per person.

The price of rice has increased from Tk 2 to 6 per kg in the past two weeks, said Nirod Boron Saha, president of the Rice and Paddy Stockists and Wholesalers Association in Noagaon, a major rice wholesale hub in the north.

There is a possibility of further price hikes given that traders are stockpiling rice now, he said.

The Daily Star could not reach the food minister or the food secretary despite repeated attempts. QR Code

Published Date: January 16, 2024

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