The BOC Ghat, the largest wholesale paddy market in the eastern part of the country for centuries, is now having hundreds of traders after newly harvested paddy started reaching the market for the past one month.
Every day, the silence on the bank of Meghna breaks with activities of the traders as paddy is sold at the market seven days a week.
For the last one month, newly harvested paddy has reached the market. At present, an average of 40,000 maunds of paddy is being sold in the market every day.
The price of rice in the market is now stable as a result of sufficient supply of paddy. Besides, the price of local rice is lower than that of imported Indian rice. That is why the demand for local rice is also increasing in the market.
Sources from the paddy market said the traders bring paddy by boat every morning from haor areas of Brahmanbaria and adjacent districts. Sales go on from morning till noon. The main buyers of this market are the rice mill owners of Brahmanbaria. There are more than 300 rice mills in the district. There are at least 25 rice mills in Ashuganj upazila. Every day thousands of people come to this paddy market of BOC Ghat.
According to the old traders of the market, the BOC ghat paddy market is about hundred years old.
At first, the size of the market was small. At that time, paddy from Brahmanbaria and surrounding areas was sold here. With the passage of time, paddy produced in Kishoreganj, Mymensingh, Netrokona, Sunamganj, Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Habiganj districts is also sold at this market.
Traders said this market is not leased to anybody. The buyers have to pay 40 paisa only to BIWTA for per sack of paddy as terminal charge. The rice produced from the paddy of this market is supplied to all the districts of Chattogram and Sylhet divisions and to some districts of Dhaka division. At least one lakh maunds of paddy is sold every day during the peak season.
However, sales in the paddy market dropped by 90% to 95% since December last year, due to the import of one million tonnes of rice from India to meet increased rice prices. At that time, an average of 5,000 maunds of paddy was sold every day. Due to the paddy crisis, the owners closed 80% of the rice mills in the district. The rice mill owners then said that the price of local rice would go down once the imported Indian rice reaches market. As a result, they decided not to buy paddy without monitoring the price of Indian rice.
But now the crisis of paddy has come to an end after newly harvested paddy started reaching the market. The market is now booming again. At present, an average of 40,000 maunds of paddy is being sold every day. The new heera paddy is being sold at Tk830 to Tk850, and BR-29 at Tk1,040 to Tk1,070.
However, the rice mill owners think that the price of paddy is still higher than usual. They said if the price of each variety of paddies is reduced by another Tk100 per maund, the sale at the market will be doubled.
At present, the price of local rice is lower than that of Indian rice in the market. That is why the demand for local rice has also increased. In the markets of Brahmanbaria, BR-28 variety of rice is being sold at Tk2,200 per sack (50 kg) and BR-29 variety is being sold at Tk2,100.
Khokon Mia, a rice trader from Ashuganj upazila, said he started rice trading by renting a rice mill. He bought paddy from the market and took it to the rice mill, to make rice and supply it to the market.
He said, "The price of local rice is slightly lower than Indian rice. As a result, the demand for local rice is high. So, the sale of rice is also good."
Hasan Imran, owner of Rajnigandha Agro Foods in Ashuganj Upazila, said there was a crisis of paddy in the market at the end of last year which increased the price of paddy. Besides, the news of Indian rice import also reduced the sales of paddy in the market.
"Now the market is getting stronger again due to the arrival of new paddy. However, if the current market price of paddy decreases by at least Tk100, the sales will increase further," he added.
Helal Sikder, general secretary of Ashuganj Upazila Rice Mill Owners' Association, said, "After the arrival of new paddy, all our closed rice mills have been reopened. Our local rice is better in quality and cheaper than imported Indian rice. That is why we have more demand for local rice in the market than Indian rice."