The Directorate General of Food could not meet the target of procuring paddy and rice in the Boro season, despite the government's call for additional stock to deal with the coronavirus and flood situation.
According to the Ministry of Food, only 25.19 percent of the paddy procurement target (eight lakhs tonnes) was achieved until August 26. Besides, the target for rice collection was 11.5 lakh tonnes, but the food directorate has managed to collect only 52.95 percent.
The procurement of paddy started from April 26, and the target for paddy and rice collection was set till August 31.
In this situation, the government will take necessary action against the millers who did not provide rice to the government.
However, at the moment, the millers have applied for a time extension of more than a month to provide rice. Not only time, millers have also demanded an incentive of Tk4 per kg from the government.
According to the agreement between the government and the millers, the price of boiled rice was fixed at Tk36 and sun-dried (atop) rice at Tk35 per kg.
Meanwhile, the price of rice has increased by Tk1-2 over the last two months. According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, the price of coarse rice has gone up by about six percent, medium-quality fine rice by 8.51 percent and fine rice by 5.36 percent in the last one month.
Millers have been suspected of manipulating the rice market. Asked about this, food ministry secretary Moshammat Namjanara Khanum told The Business Standard, "We have good stocks and supplies of food grain. Some millers are manipulating the price. We have started monitoring the matter vigorously."
Regarding not meeting the procurement target, she said, "We set a large target this time so that farmers got good prices, which has been fulfilled. We have good stocks and don't have to import."
According to the food ministry and food directorate, the prime minister has made a policy to import rice. However, the ministry is not going to import now. They will monitor the planting situation of the Aman crop. If good planting is done and no more natural calamities occur, we do not have to import.
Meanwhile, sources at the food directorate said that they would take action against millers for violating the agreement. They are also thinking of extending the collection period for 15 days.
Layek Ali, general secretary of the Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners Association, said, "We have asked for another month to deliver the rice because now the Aus harvest has already started. Since farmers will sell the Aus paddy quickly, I hope I will be able to supply the rice as per the agreement with the government."
According to a research report of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, farmers have held on to the stock of paddy this time as the price is good in the market. That is why paddy is being sold in the market at more than Tk900-1,050. That's why millers started procrastinating to give rice to the government.
According to the Ministry of Food, it has sent a letter to the finance ministry recommending that only those who have given rice to the government as per the agreement be given incentives.
According to the Ministry of Food, the total stock of food grain in the government's warehouses was 13 lakhs 29 thousand tonnes till August 26 including 10.87 lakh tonnes of rice and 2.42 lakh tonnes of wheat.