The Ministry of Food has set rice prices to mitigate extreme market volatility, and the large millers have started selling rice at the price set by the government.
However, the millers of Naogaon, Kushtia and Natore are of the view that this selling price will not be sustainable in the long-term owing to the high price of paddy.
Earlier on Tuesday, the ministry held a meeting with the rice mill owners. During the meeting, the price of Miniket rice was set at Tk51.50, while the price for medium-quality rice was set at Tk45.
On Wednesday, it was found that the millers have started selling rice at the rate set by the Ministry. But the millers were not satisfied.
According to the millers, the price of paddy is now more than Tk1,300; it was sometimes difficult to get paddy even at this high rate. Many stockists and middlemen were hoarding paddy to be able to exploit the higher prices, they said.
Hence, if the price of paddy increases further, it will not be possible to sell rice at the government-fixed rate, they opined.
Md Layek Ali, general secretary of the Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners Association, said, "We are forced to sell rice at this fixed rate. If the government cannot increase the supply of paddy, we will be unable to sell rice at this price for very long."
Meanwhile, many millers have started selling rice at the new price, while some are still charging a higher rate.
Badsha Rice Agency in Karwan Bazar buys rice from a mill in Naogaon. Hossain Munna, the seller at the shop, said Miniket rice was sold at Tk52 per kilogram in Naogaon on Wednesday.
MA Khaleq, proprietor of Desh Agro Limited in Khazanagar, said, "We have sold rice at the government-set price on Wednesday. A 50-kg sack of Miniket costs Tk2,575 and medium-28 rice costs Tk2,250. The mill owners are incurring losses as the price of paddy is much higher. I am forced to sell rice at this price."
Omar Farooq, president of the Kushtia Auto Rice Mill Owners Association, said, "The cost of rice import, production and other expenses exceeds the fixed price of Miniket rice per-kg. I don't know how long it will be possible to sell at a loss."
Meanwhile, Kushtia Deputy Commissioner Aslam Hossain said, "Our monitoring team did not find rice being sold at high prices in the market."
The Naogaon correspondent of The Business Standard said that the Miniket rice was sold at Tk51.50 in Alupotti, the area's rice-selling hub.
Regarding the price of paddy, he said, per 40 kg of Jirashail (Miniket) paddy have been sold at Tk1,200-1,220 in several markets, including the ones in Mahadevpur Upazila of the district.
Naogaon District Food Controller, GM Faruk Hossain Patowari said, "We are regularly monitoring the rice market in Naogaon. Rice trading is going on within the price fixed by the government."
Meanwhile, the impact of price reduction at the mill gates is yet to reach the retail markets. Thus far, Dhaka and Kushtia's mill gates have not been affected.
Kazi Rakibul Hasan, assistant director of the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection in Kushtia, said, "We have not received any allegations of price hike at the mill gates while monitoring the market."
It has been found that medium-quality rice is being sold at Tk48-54 in Dhaka markets, while Miniket is selling at Tk57-62.