The price of rice has declined by Tk100-300 per bag in the wholesale market in the Chaktai and the Pahartali areas in Chattogram, and it may drop further, presumed the businessmen there.
The price of coarse rice also dropped by Tk100 and sold at Tk2,000 per bag. Rice mill owners say that the price is decreasing because businessmen have started bringing Boro paddy to the storehouses.
Rice mill owners increased the price of rice before Ramadan, saying that the supply of rice has dwindled. This affects consumers. People of low and middle income suffered when the price of rice increased amid the novel coronavirus crisis.
Omar Azam, general secretary of the Chaktai Rice Businessmen's Association, said, "The price of rice has dropped over the last three weeks. The price has also dropped in districts where there are large storehouses."
Visiting the markets in Chaktai and Pahartali, our correspondent found that the price of Jirashail, Swarna, Beti, Miniket, Basmoti, and Paijam rice has dropped.
Rice mill owners say the price has decreased by Tk50-200 per maund.
Businessmen said during the last one week, the price of Jirashail rice (boiled) dropped by Tk200 and stood at Tk2,400 per bag. The price of Miniket rice (boiled) dropped by Tk300 and sold at 2,100 per bag. The price of Swarna (boiled) decreased by Tk200 and came down to Tk2,200 per sack. Price of each sack of Pijam (boiled) rice also dropped by Tk200 per bag and sold at Tk2,250. The price of Miniket (atap) dropped Tk100 and sold at Tk2,300
SM Nizam Uddin, general secretary of Pahartali Bazar Bonik Samiti, said, "Every year, the owners of the mokams (business places) increase the price of rice before Ramadan. This is a common practice in the mokams in North Bengal. The increased price prevails till Eid. But this year the price of rice decreased because the Boro paddy has started coming to the market."
Shanta Dasgupta, former president of the Chattogram Rice Mill Owners Association, said "Boro paddy is being brought to the mills. However, half of the paddy has not been harvested yet. So, the price of rice will decrease further when all of the paddy will be harvested."
He further said, "The price of rice will drop further if the government buys paddy directly from farmers. The intermediaries always exploit the system. They sell the rice at the mokams for a much higher price after buying it from the farmers. So, the price of rice does not decrease ever."
Meanwhile, consumers are relieved by the drop in the price of this essential commodity.
Mohammad Suman, a resident of the Muradpur area in Chattogram city, said, "Businessmen manipulate the market and increase the price before Ramadan every year, and this happened this year too. The businessmen have not refrained from hiking the price even amid the coronavirus crisis. But general people will be relieved now, as the price is dropping."
The Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) has urged the administration to bring the price of essential goods including rice under control.
Assistant President of CAB SM Najir Hossain said, "Low-income people now have to stay at home. Rice and lentils are their staple food. Although the price of rice has decreased, the price of other essentials are still out of their reach. So, the administration should supervise the market properly. Otherwise, low-income people will starve."