No repeat of onion market crisis with rice : Minister

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Staff Reporter:

In the wake of newspaper reports, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder on Sunday said there should be no scope for the kind of disruption witnessed in the market for onions in the domestic rice market, despite some slight upticks just recently.

“I’ve learned from newspapers that rice prices have gone up slightly in the last few days. However, our reserves are still high. There shouldn’t be any problem with rice prices anywhere near what happened with onions,” Majumder said, in his remarks to journalists after a meeting with the Auto Rice Mill Owners’ Association at Khaddya Bhaban in the city’s Ramna.

“There has been an unnecessary scandal over onion price… the same shouldn’t happen with rice,” said the minister.

The minister also said the mill owners have been instructed not to hike the rice price under any circumstances.

He also said the government supported the farmers to help maintain fair pricing.

“When rice prices were low, we bought rice from farmers for higher prices,” he said.

Majumder further expressed that the public has shifted towards finer breed of rice.

“People now have forgotten the taste of coarse rice. Everyone eats fine rice now…There is pressure on fine rice.  Because of this, the price may have risen a bit,” speculated the minister.

He mentioned that OMS dealers refuse to buy rice from the government because of its lower price.

“OMS dealers cannot sell rice at the rate of Tk 30 per kg.  So, they don’t want to take it.  It doesn’t mean we’ve bad quality rice in our warehouses,” the minister added.

Sadhan Chandra went on to say, “We also monitor the market.  We’ve seen the price of fine rice has marked a rise bit.”

Mentioning that there will be no rice export, said the minister adding: “If we were to export, it would be the fine variety but now it’s consumed by all. I, therefore, cannot approve it.”

He also mentioned that farmers will be encouraged to increase paddy production rate to meet demands.

“Now we need to increase the production of paddy.  We are taking measures so that farmers get fair prices…although the Food Ministry does not buy rice during the monsoon season this time we are making an exception,” he said.

President of Auto Rice Mill Owners’ Association AKM Khurshid Alam Khan said the meeting with the minister was fruitful and they put forward some proposals.

“We have enough rice in stock but there may be disruption in supplying the rice if the new road safety law is implemented as many of the vehicles used in distributing rice will be abandoned,” he said.

Khurshid mentioned that they have requested that this law be enforced after two months.unb

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