City retail markets saw rice prices go up by Tk 4.0-6.0 a kg over the last few days while farmers are not getting fair price for their newly harvested Aman paddy.
The sudden upturn in rice prices came at a time when farmers are struggling to recoup their investment in Aman cultivation, as the paddy now sells at a price much below the production cost, market observers said.
Millers attributed the surge in rice prices to declining supply of Boro paddy and the government's announcement that it would procure a big amount of Aman paddy and rice.
Medium quality Birridhan 28 and 29 and paijam rice were selling at Tk 44-46 a kg, miniket Tk 53-62 a kg, najirshail Tk 60-72 a kg and Swarna, a coarse variety, at Tk 40-42 a kg on the city retail market for the last three days.
Md Asadullah, a trader at Babubazar, told the FE that millers in Kushtia, Naogaon, Dinajpur, Pabna and Nilphamari raised the prices of all kinds of rice by Tk 120-Tk 200 for each 50-kg sack over a week.
"We bought Birridhan 28 at Tk 38 a kg (including transportation cost) from Dinajpur mills, up from Tk 32 just a week ago," he said.
Good quality miniket procured from Kushtia Khajanagar rice hub cost Tk 52 a kg, he added.
He also said traders in Babubazar and Badamtoli wholesale markets raised the prices three days ago after their old rice stocks ran out.
Abdul Mazid, a rice miller in Ishwardi, Pabna, told the FE that prices of Boro paddy have increased as its supply dwindled, prompting a hike in prices of some other rice varieties.
He said old paddy of Jeerashail and Birridhan 28 varieties were selling at Tk 750-900 a maund, up from Tk 650-Tk 750 one and a half weeks ago.
He also said the government's announcement to procure 1.0 million tonnes of rice and paddy from domestic sources also prompted many traders and millers to stock up on the item.
The government has announced that it would collect 0.6 million tonnes of paddy and 0.4 million tonnes of rice from farmers as well as millers.
As per the decision, the food directorate will buy paddy at Tk 26 a kg (Tk 1040 a maund), parboiled rice at Tk 36 a kg and white rice (Aatop) at Tk 35 a kg.
Abdul Mazid said no bar on rice export has also encouraged both aromatic and parboiled rice traders to increase purchase of rice.
The current hike in rice prices could help farmers raise the prices of their produce during this Aman harvesting season, he expressed the hope.
Hazrat Ali, a proprietor of Nilphamari-based M/S Olima Traders, told the FE that newly harvested swarna paddy was selling at Tk 500-520 a maund on Monday, registering a marginal increase of Tk 50-70 per maund over the last week.
However, the newly harvested paddy is yet to be husked by the millers, he added.
He also said paddy harvest would start in full swing from next week in Rangpur region.
If the rising trend in paddy prices continues this Aman harvesting season, prices of rice might increase further, he said.
Contacted, Assistant Director of the Department of Agricultural Marketing (DAM) Touhid Md Rashed Khan said paddy prices are now as low as Tk 12.5 to Tk 14 a kg across the country against the production cost of Tk 22-24 a kg.
For rice millers, production cost of Birridhan 28 rice is below Tk 26 a kg and miniket Tk 35 a kg, he said.
Millers are now selling the two varieties at Tk 33-34 a kg and Tk 42-50 a kg respectively, he added.
He also said the country has now a huge stock of rice, as the production was an all-time high at 37 million tonnes in the last financial year.
Aman production is expected to hit a bumper harvest of 14.3 million tonnes this season, he added.
The DAM official said monitoring should be intensified at both rice mill hubs and big city wholesale markets in order to keep the rice market stable.
At the same time, interest of all the parties-farmers, traders and consumers-should be protected, he added.
ONION: Meanwhile, prices of onion again started rising at both wholesale and retail markets in the capital, according to traders and consumers.
Wholesalers were selling local variety of the essential kitchen item at Tk 108-Tk 112 a kg and imported ones, especially Myanmar and Chinese varieties, at Tk 94-Tk 102 a kg at Shyambazar market on Monday.
At Sadeq Khan wholesale market at Beribadh, Mohammapur, traders, however, were selling local onion at Tk 125-Tk 132 a kg.
In retail markets, the local variety of onion cost Tk 140-Tk 150 a kg depending on quality while imported variety Tk 125-Tk 135 a kg, consumers said.
Last week, the prices of local variety were Tk 130-Tk 135 and imported variety Tk 120-Tk 125 at the retail level, according to traders.
Wholesalers at the Shyambazar market said they sold local variety of onion at Tk 90-Tk 108 a kg and imported ones at Tk 84-Tk 88 last week.
On Friday last, traders at the Shyambazar wholesale market decided that they would sell onions imported from Myanmar at Tk 80-Tk 85 a kg and those imported from Egypt, Turkey and China at Tk 50-55 a kg.
They also pledged to take action if anyone at the wholesale market fails to abide by the decision.
But the wholesalers did not fix the price of locally grown onion considering the ongoing supply crisis.
Asked, the traders attributed the sudden price hike to cyclone Bulbul as it disrupted unloading of imported onion at the Chittagong port and transportation of the item to different places of the country on Friday and Saturday last.
The surging prices raised concern among the consumers.
"We're very worried about surging prices of onion. We urge the government to take action to stabilise the prices of onion for sake of consumer," Tazmina Rezwan, a housewife, told the FE at Fakirapool kitchen market on Monday.
Meanwhile, the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh has been selling onion at Tk 45 a kg through five mobile vans in the city.