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Sunday, March 30, 2008
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India hikes rice price to $1,000 per tonne

Importers find it prohibitive; India finally offers $430 for import at govt level

India increased minimum price for export of non-basmati rice to $1,000 per tonne from $650 but food ministry officials believe this move would not have any major impact on Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, the Indian team negotiating rice price with Bangladesh officials left for India yesterday, finally offering the export price of per tonne of rice at $430 at government level.

The Indian team also asked the Bangladesh authorities to inform the Indian side about their decision on import of four lakh tonnes of rice from India by this month.

An Indian commerce ministry notification signed by its additional secretary IK Gujral fixed the new price for non-basmati rice.

Food Secretary Mollah Waheeduzzaman told The Daily Star that Bangladesh has food reserve for three months and Boro price. A wholesale trader said price of rice will drop when locally-produced rice enters the market in mid-April.

Food Secretary Mollah Waheeduzzaman told The Daily Star that Bangladesh has food reserve for three months and Boro rice will start entering the market soon. The international food crisis and the Indian price hike will not impact Bangladesh, he said.

Mohammad Tipu Sultan, a rice importer, said hiking export price to $1,000 per tonne indicates that the Indian strategy is not to export rice.

"We can start collecting rice from the local market from April 15," he said.

Private traders have rice reserve for one and a half month, said Tipu Sultan, adding, "Therefore, there is no reason for immediate price hike of rice."

Bangladesh Economic Association President Prof Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad said the Indian price hike proves that food crisis has become a global issue.

It may not influence Bangladesh market immediately since there is food in reserve but the problem is the already high price of rice. People of low and limited income group struggle to buy food, he said.

"Price hike of rice in such a way would not have happened if the government had recognised the problem on time and imported food when its price was low," Kholiquzzaman said.

The only way out for the government is to give special emphasis on food production, he said. He suggested allocating more money in the next budget for agriculture, providing farmers with agriculture loans and buying food early from local and foreign markets.

Prices of Indian rice in wholesale markets in the city dropped by Tk 10 to Tk 20 a mound, just over 37kg. A mound of Indian rice was selling yesterday between Tk 1,180 and Tk 1,220.

Prices of locally-produced coarse rice, however, increased by Tk 10 to Tk 20. A mound of these rice was selling yesterday between Tk 1,160 and Tk 1,180.

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