Puffed rice, locally known as Muri, is one of the most popular traditional dry foods in Bangladesh. Whatever the season is, be it a rainy monsoon evening or a chilly wintry night, puffed rice has always been a favourite snack of the Bengali people for hundreds of years.
This product is now being exported to many countries, especially to meet the demand of Bangladeshi expatriates. About 5,300 tonnes of puffed rice has been exported through Chattogram customs station as of October 22 this year.
The customs sources said 19 companies were involved in the export valued at around Tk76 crore.
"Puffed rice has a high demand overseas, where many Bangladeshi nationals are living. This item is being exported to more than 20 countries," said a customs official.
According to customs sources, a total of 36 manufacturers exported about 6,700 tonnes of the item bagging around Tk102 crore of foreign currency in 2018. Meanwhile, the export value was around Tk82 crore against 6,300 tonnes of puffed rice in 2017.
Most of the puffed rice is being exported to countries such as Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and some African countries, where most of our expatriates live.
The demand for puffed rice increases during Ramadan, the fasting month of the Muslims, as it is an obvious item for Iftar of the Bangladeshis.
According to the export sheet, The Banga Millers Ltd, a sister concern of the Pran Agro Ltd is the top exporter of puffed rice. Hifs Agro Foods, GR Trading, MN International, Al-Amin Enterprise, Kishoan, Well Food Ltd, Ebco Food Industries are the leading exporters among others.
The export of puffed rice has created a scope for many people to change their fortunes as hundreds of families produce the product in their homes.
Tapon Dhum, a school teacher from Mirsharai upazila of Chattogram said many families are producing organic puffed rice in Mithanala village of the upazila for the local market.
"Many villagers earn their livelihood producing puffed rice. The hand-made item has a huge demand in the local market as it is produced without any chemicals," he added.
The teacher hopes that exporters will collect the organic puffed rice for selling abroad, which will enhance the cottage industry.
Mahbubul Alom, the president of the Chattogram Chamber of Commerce Industries told The Business Standard, "The puffed rice is included in our export product list. The item is now appearing in foreign shops and it is a good sign for our economy.
"We should look for new items for the export sector. Puffed rice has already cut a good demand in foreign markets. Necessary steps should be taken to enhance its market abroad."
He also urged the government to provide incentives to facilitate the puffed rice production and export.