Global suppliers queue up for exporting food grains
Top food-exporting countries and organisations have expressed their interests in supplying food grains and commodities to Bangladesh as the country is witnessing soaring prices of the essential items in the domestic market.
Officials said the offers were coming to the authorities concerned at a time when the government was trying to ensure the country's food security amid supply chain disruptions and high prices of the commodities.
In one such proposal, Canadian firm onCorp has recently proposed with specifications and price offers to the Bangladesh Ministry of Commerce (MoC) to export wheat.
The Russian Federation has offered to sell food products, including red lentils, green lentils, sunflower oil, yellow peas, and chickpeas, under a government-to-government (G2G) arrangement.
Besides, the National Cooperative Consumers' Federation of India Limited (NCCF) and The National Federation of Farmers' Procurement Processing and Retailing Cooperatives of India Ltd. (NACOF) have proposed to supply edible oil, sugar, onion, lentil, etc.
HH Enterprise in favour of Redplanet General Trading L.L.C, Dubai also has also proposed to supply sugar.
"We've received a proposal from the Russian government," a high official of the ministry said, adding one Canadian and one Dubai firm and two Indian entities put forward the offers to sell various food items/food grains to Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB).
The state trading agency has been selling a few essential items on the open market at subsidised rates for sometime now while the government has announced to provide around 10 million people with food and essentials at subsidised rates during the month of holy Ramadan.
"We're scrutinising the proposals. The offers are very important for Bangladesh given the present volatile local kitchen market situation," said a senior official at the MoC.
He, however, pointed out that there are issues in the offers that need to be examined carefully. "So, it'll take time to decide on the proposals."
Currently, the prices of essential items like lentils, edible oil, flour, sugar, etc. are already high in the kitchen markets, hitting the consumers hard.
The government is trying to increase supply of the items, said another official.
As part of a regular practice, the government is communicating with the different developed nations/regions who are the top producers of food grains and other essential items.
A high-powered team of government officials already visited some potential markets, especially South American countries like Brazil and Argentina, from January 30 to February 04 last to explore import sources of two essential items under G2G arrangement.
Besides, Dhaka has requested New Delhi for an annual import quota for Bangladesh to bring commodities including wheat, sugar, rice, onion, garlic, and ginger.
The issue is now under consideration of the neighbour, the senior official said, adding that Delhi offered export quotas on essential goods to Nepal and Bhutan in the national budget of India placed in March last year.
He said imports from India increased in recent times due to a crisis-like situation and that the importers can bring in goods from the next door neighbour within a short period of time. Besides, prices of such items are lower in India.
Bangladesh imports the highest volume of the key consumer items from India.