Rice imports mark abrupt jumpAKM Zamir Uddin
The import of rice skyrocketed in the first two months of the current financial year 2013-14 as the production of the food grain declined in the period than that of previous FY13 due to an unfavourable business situation for the farmers, said Bangladesh Bank officials.
BB data released on Sunday showed that the import of rice increased by 324.12 per cent in July-August of the FY14 from that of the same period in the FY13.
The settlement of LCs, or generally known as actual import, for the rice stood at $26.55 million in the first two months of the FY14 against $6.26 million during the same period of the FY13.
The BB data showed that the import of wheat had also rose by 84.93 per cent in the first two months of the FY14.
The settlement of LCs for wheat increased to $221.42 million in July-August of the FY14 from $119.73 million in the corresponding period of the FY13.
Food ministry data showed that the country imported 9,33,020 tonnes of rice and wheat in about three and a half months of the current fiscal year till October 9 whereas the total import of the food grains was 18,87,750 tonnes during the last fiscal year.
The data, however, showed that till October 9, the country imported only 990 tonnes of rice.
A BB official told New Age on Sunday that the country had enjoyed available food grains in the last few years, but the production of rice declined in the last financial year which pushed up the import cost.
The import of rice and wheat collectively registered a negative growth of 54.67 per cent in the first two months of the FY12 compared with that of 19.06 per cent growth during the same period of the FY11.
The settlement of LCs for the rice and wheat decreased to $125.99 million in July-August of the FY12 from $277.94 million in the corresponding period of the FY13.
According to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics data, the rice production declined by 0.087 million tonnes to 33.77 million tonnes in the FY13 from 33.88 million tonnes in the FY12.
The BB official said the low price of rice had forced the farmers to cultivate other crops. A good number of the farmers usually alleged that they failed to recover the production cost in the last few years, he said.
He said, ‘The price of rice and its output are directly related. The farmers will harvest more if they get better price. But lower price of the crop in the last few years sent them in a frustrating situation.’
He said that the decline in output of rice in the FY13 had recently increased its price and also forced the country to import more the crop.
Another BB official said the supply of rice decreases in August-October of each year as the period is off-season for the crop. Under the circumstances, the price of rice may increase further this month.
Besides, the import cost of rice has also increased as the price maintained an upward trend in the neighbouring country India, one of the largest rice exporter countries to Bangladesh, he said.
The country imported rice worth $398 for per tonne in September while the figure was $250 per tonne in June of 2013, he said.
The BB data showed that the opening of LCs, or actually known as import order, for the rice and wheat had also increased by 229.81 per cent in the first two months of the FY14 compared with that of 37.05 per cent during the same period of the FY13.
In July-August of the FY14, LCs worth $350.28 million were opened for rice and wheat compared with LCs worth $106.21 million in the same period of the FY13. LCs worth $77.50 million were opened by banks in the first two months of the FY12.
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