The government has lowered the stock limit of paddy for rice mills to ensure an adequate supply of the country’s main crops and to keep rice prices stable on the market.
Against the backdrop of continuous price hike of rice in the country, the food ministry has taken the decision to lower the stock limit of paddy for a rice mill to three times its fortnightly husking capacity from the five-time limit.
The food ministry in a circular issued on Tuesday said that considering the eight-hour working day, all rice mills, including automatic, major and husking ones, would be eligible to stock three times of their fortnightly husking capacity of paddy for 30 days.
Earlier, all types of rice mills were entitled to stock five times of their fortnightly husking capacity of paddy for 30 days.
‘Considering both the price and supply situations of paddy on the market, the ministry has lowered the stock limit of the crop for the rice mills,’ food secretary Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum told New Age on Thursday.
She said that the government set the stock limit of paddy at five times the mills’ fortnightly husking capacity in 2011 when the number of rice mills was small.
The number of mills has increased significantly in the last nine years and now a supply shortage of paddy might take place on the market if all mills stock five times of their fortnightly husking capacity, the secretary said.
She said that the government had taken the initiative in order to keep the supply and prices of the staple stable.
‘We had opposed the initiative of the food ministry to lower the stock limit of paddy but the ministry does not take our observations into consideration,’ said Bangladesh Auto Major and Husking Mill Owners Association secretary general KM Layek Ali.
He said that the price of rice was not increasing due to the stock limit of paddy in rice mills but rather, a good number of affluent farmers and seasonal traders were stocking the item in huge quantity with hopes of hiking prices.
Layek said that growers would be affected by this government decision as buying and selling of paddy would decline on the market and the price might fall.
‘I think it is a test case for the government. If the lower limit of stock for the mills brings fruitful results, it will be continued and if the decision affects farmers, the government would have to rethink the decision,’ he said.
The price of rice started to increase on the local market in June amid bumper production of paddy in the country.
Rice prices have risen by Tk 6-10 a kilogram on the city markets in the last one month.
According to the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, the price of the fine variety of rice — Najirshail and Miniket — had risen by 9.82 per cent in the last one month and the item was selling for Tk 58-65 a kg on the city markets.
The price of the medium quality variety of rice — Paijam and Lata — had increased by 19.35 per cent in the last one month and was selling for Tk 53-58 a kg, the TCB data showed.
The government data also showed that the price of the coarse variety of rice had increased by 12.94 per cent in the last one month and it sold for Tk 46-50 a kg on the markets of Dhaka city.