Price hike is temporary and will be resolved soon, traders say
Rice prices have begun to rise again after a brief respite over the past three weeks.
Rice varieties that were selling for Tk55 per kg last week are now priced at Tk58. Varieties that were selling at Tk52 and Tk45 a week ago have seen a similar increase in prices, reports Bangla Tribune.
According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), the price of medium quality rice has shot up by 4.76% and coarse rice by 3.37% over the past week.
However, rice traders claim the recent hike in prices is only temporary and they should drop again in a few days.
Abdur Rahman, a trader at Karwan Bazar Wholesale Market in Dhaka, said a shortage in rice supply had pushed up the prices and fresh imports would take them back down.
“The prices will not go down too much, but they will go down,” he added.
On December 27, the government decided to allow private traders to import rice in a desperate bid to offset high rice prices in the domestic market.
The import duty was lowered to only 25% from 62.5%, so that private importers could supplement recent government efforts to import rice by floating international tenders.
Bangladesh, traditionally the world's third-biggest rice producer, has emerged as a big importer of the grain lately due to depleted stocks and record local prices after repeated flooding ravaged local crops.
The country produces around 35 million tons of rice annually but uses almost all its production to feed its population of more than 160 million, often requiring imports to cope with shortages caused by floods or droughts.
The government is rushing to build buffer stocks as it aims to import as much as 500,000 tonnes of rice in the year to June. It is finalizing the purchase of 150,000 tonnes of rice from India, officials told Reuters, in what would be the first such bilateral deal in three years.
The government has also been issuing a series of tenders to purchase rice in recent weeks.
The rain-fed rice output, or Aman crop, is expected to fall as much as 15% this year, due to repeated floods and excessive rainfall, a senior official at the Agriculture Ministry said.
With shortfalls, the government's domestic rice procurement in this harvesting season could see a setback after an earlier drive to shore up supplies fell short of targets.
Soybean oil is also getting pricier. Loose soybean oil is being sold at Tk122 per litre, as compared to Tk120 last week.
However, the prices of bottled soybean oil are decreasing.
Rabban Ali, a trader in the Maniknagar area of Dhaka, said palm oil is being sold at a lower price compared to a week ago.
Haji Golam Mawla, a wholesaler at Old Dhaka's Maulvi Bazar, said oil prices in the domestic market rise and fall in line with the international market.
However, he also claimed local edible oil companies raise prices at mills in winter.
Onion, vegetable, chicken prices in control
Each kg of local onion is available at Tk30-35 at retail stores. Some traders are even charging Tk55 for two kgs of local onion, with wholesale prices at Tk25.
TCB said the prices had dropped by 10% over the last week. Imported onion is selling for Tk20 per kg.
Broiler chicken is available at Tk125 per kg, which is Tk3 less than last week.
Meanwhile, potato and tomato are also being sold at lower prices. Potato is now available at Tk17, while tomato prices have been halved to Tk10-20.
Beans are now priced at Tk15-30, cabbage and cauliflower at Tk15-20, radish at Tk10-15, carrot at Tk15-30, and aubergine at Tk15-25.
Akbar Ali, a trader in Maniknagar, said there is abundant supply of winter vegetables, which is why the prices are low.
Prices were similar at Karwan Bazar, Moghbazar and Maniknagar kitchen markets.