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Rice price fall: Bane of farmers, boon to consumers

  • Published at 09:32 pm May 30th, 2019
Rice prices
Rice prices at record low at the capital’s kitchen markets, much to the worry of paddy growers in the country Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Traders said rice price gradually fell over the last couple of years, though with some ups and downs

Rice prices have continued to fall, bringing relief to consumers but hitting the growers hard.

Prices of the staple were found to have come down by Tk100 for a 50kg bag of rice on an average the last week in Dhaka city markets including Karwan Bazar, Khilgaon, Malibag and Hatirpool.

Traders said rice price gradually fell over the last couple of years, though with some ups and downs.

Haji Md Lokman, general secretary of Karwan Bazar traders’ association Islamia Shanti Samiti, considers the current rice price unprecedented and claims that they did not see such a low price in the last few years.

The rice prices still continued to fall, he told Dhaka Tribune, adding that the fall hurt farmers, rendering them unable even to meet their production cost while it benefited the consumers.

“The price of a 50kg sack of rice fell by Tk500 over the last month,” said Md Hannan, another wholesaler of Karwan Bazar.

He said the price fell sharply since last year. “I can’t recall how long ago I sold the rice at the current price,” he claimed.

Dewan AS Farid, a trader from Malibagh, said he sold rice at the current price more than 10 years ago. 

To keep the price stable, they (traders) had to frequently sell rice below the purchase price, he claimed.

Rice was found selling at Tk28 to Tk90 per kg depending on its varieties on Sunday. Coarse rice sold at Tk28, Paijam and BR-30 at Tk30, Miniket at Tk48, Nazirshail at Tk55 and Katarivog at Tk90.

The price was between Tk30 to Tk92 per kg in last week, Tk38-95 a month ago and Tk42-100 a year ago, said the traders, adding that coarse rice earlier sold at Tk40.

Md Lokman believes that extra stock of rice is the main reason behind the price fall and says the stock has been rising since 2010, when the government started rice import and allowed traders to import the staple by lowering the import duties.

Besides, the last couple of harvesting seasons witnessed substantial growth in yields, which was another reason, he added.

Now, Boro rice has started coming to the market despite the huge stock and further pushing down the prices.

The huge stock of rice forced farmers to lower prices to the point that they could not even realize their production costs.

They had to sell paddy at Tk450 to Tk500 for every maund (40kg) in the last few days, which was the half the production cost.

The growers said the cost of harvesting each maund of paddy was between Tk1,000 to Tk1,500. As a result farmers across the country launched protests over the issue.

Meanwhile, the government doubled import duties to 55% from 28% in a bid to discourage imports. 

But it was yet to create an impact on the markets, said Lokman.

Agreeing with Lokman, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Research Director Khondaker Golam Moazzem said the decision to control rice imports should have been made long ago.

“The government has acted too late,” he said, adding that the late decision caused suffering to farmers as rice prices fell due to the supply of imported rice.

He believes that increasing the duty will have no immediate effect but it will have some effect in the long run.

Lokman expects that the price would go up after Eid, when the Boro harvesting season will end.