List of recipients yet to be completed
Amidst high prices for rice, especially coarse rice, the government has decided to start distributing nearly half a million tons of the food staple among five million beneficiaries under its flagship Tk10/kg rice program from next month.
Under the program, each of the five million ultra-poor - who can otherwise barely afford the Tk50/kg market price of coarse rice – are expected to receive 30kg of rice at Tk10/kg for three months (September, October and November).
However, sources at the Directorate General of Food and the Ministry of Food on Friday confirmed to Dhaka Tribune that the list of beneficiaries is yet to be finalized.
The government has asked the officials concerned to get the list ready by September 10 at the absolute latest.
Sources told this correspondent that more names have to be added in half of all upazilas, and the government does not like to see subsidized food ending up in the hands of the non-poor.
The Food Friendly Program (FFP) – the official name for the Tk10/kg rice initiative– ran well in pre-pandemic years, but it has faced up some challenges following the arrival of the pandemic, especially when the government distributed rice under this program during the lockdown last year.
A study carried out by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) showed earlier this year that the program did not deliver the full allotment of rice to recipients in 2020, complicating efforts to alleviate severe economic hardship.
Several factors could have caused the program to falter, including supply disruptions, restrictions on movement, as well as lack of proper information about household eligibility conditions, the Washington-based think tank noted.
Food officials told Dhaka Tribune that efforts were underway to make the beneficiary list properly, so that subsidized rice does not end up in the wrong hands.