Bangladesh is looking to import more rice from Thailand and India to ensure the staple’s availability in the market as the flood situation is worsening and the prospect of the upcoming rice season seems uncertain. One official from the food ministry and another from food directorate formed a team and left for Bangkok on Wednesday to look into the possibility of purchasing rice from Thailand under the G2G arrangement. “We’re also expecting a team from India to visit Bangladesh soon. We’ll try to buy rice from India as well,” said Food Minister Qamrul Islam. He, however, declined to comment on how much rice at this stage, the government was intending to buy from the two countries.
Bangladesh, weeks after striking a G2G deal to import the staple from Vietnam, is also opening two more international bids this week, seeking to import 50,000 tonnes of rice. The moves come amid high rice prices in the domestic market and further depletion of the public food reserve. The government had already low food reserves, below five lakh tonnes in June. Now, the volume has come down to 3.4 lakh tonnes, of which rice stock is only 1.54 lakh tonnes. Apart from the regular food aid programmes, rice and wheat stored in the public granaries are also being given to flood and landslide victims as assistance.
Rice prices had jumped 47% over the last year prices but the government, following the lowering of import duty to 10 percent from 28 percent, intends to curb that. The government is also expecting the first consignment of rice from Vietnam to reach the Chittagong port by the end of this week. Following this year’s crop loss owing to Haor flashfloods and fungal attacks (rice blast), the government struck three deals in May and June for importing total of 3.5 lakh tonnes of rice, comprising of 1 lakh tonnes from two Dubai and Singapore-based suppliers and 2.5 lakh tonnes more from Vietnam under the G2G programme, however none of the import consignments, have reached the country yet.