Agriculture Minister Md Abdur Razzak has said the price of rice has increased, during the peak of season, due to manipulation by rice mill owners.
He made the observation after inaugurating the construction of the Gopalganj Agricultural Research Centre on Sunday.
The minister said, "The price of paddy is much higher at the field level. To meet this deficit, the government will import five to six lakh metric tonnes of rice. Because if this deficit is not met, rice mill owners, hoarders and rice traders who control the market will have the opportunity to increase its price. Mill owners have already raised the price of rice by manipulating it even during this peak time of the season."
Although he blamed rice mill owners for the price hike, the agriculture minister also admitted that continuous floods and five months of torrential rains had caused some damage to aus and aman paddy. "Aman paddy on about 1,05,000 hectares of land has been destroyed, causing production of 15-20 lakh metric tonnes of paddy less than the target. For this reason, the price of rice is a bit higher," he said.
Saying that all kinds of initiatives are being taken to ensure that there is no problem with food in the future, Razzak said, "In order to increase production, boro paddy will be cultivated on an additional 50,000 hectares of land compared to the previous year."
Already, hybrid rice seeds worth around Tk76 crore have been distributed among farmers free of cost, he added.
The minister said that besides reducing the tariffs, the government is allowing the private sector to import rice. "There is some shortage of rice; if this shortage is met increasing the supply on the market, importing it quickly, the price of rice will return to normal, within the purchasing power of low-income people," he added.