According to the government, a kilogramme of a coarse variety of rice has soared to 48 taka per kg, setting a new record in the country’s economy. This threatens the food security of nearly 20 million families. Why has the price of rice increased so much? The reasons have been identified as faults in planning and management, lack of farsightedness, politics with food and so on. Analysing information from three agencies, it has been observed that rice prices have consistently been rising for the last one year. According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), in the past month, the price of rice has increased by 11 per cent and prices have doubled in the past one year.
Reality has been blocked out by political promises of providing the public with rice at just 10 taka per kg and by projecting the country as self-sufficient in food. Rice was imported when there was no need for imports. The price of rice had fallen so low and has impacted the farmers so badly, that they were hesitant to grow rice the next season. The floods in the marshy haor districts this year have also been responsible for the steep rice prices. The hard fact is that there is only 231 thousand tonnes of rice in government reserve. This is the lowest food reserve of the country in 10 years. Experts contend that the reserves must be at least 600 tonnes. The government is unable to procure food grain because no farmers will want to sell rice to the government at the fixed rate of 34 taka per kg, when the market rate is 48 taka. Asked about the rise in rice prices, food minister Quamrul Islam did not make any specific comment on it. “I’ve just come from Vietnam after signing an agreement for rice procurement. I am unable to comment on the price of rice in Bangladesh.”