Minister Makes U-Turn on Food Crisis
Tuesday, 13 July 2010

A day after the food minister feared a probable food crisis during October-November, Abdur Razzaque on Monday told the parliament that there will be no such crisis.

The sudden U-turn comes after a meeting between the prime minister and secretaries at the Cabinet Division on Monday morning.

Razzaque told parliament that the country had enough food reserve to face future crises.

"There is no chance of food crises. The government is fully aware of the matter. It has strengthened the food security system," he said.

Responding to a supplementary question by Shahriar Alam, the minister said, "The government is putting stress on wheat to decrease dependency on rice. The rice price in our country is in an unstable state as it is higher in the international and neighbouring Indian markets."

Reduction of food production in the haor areas and increased demand is also responsible for the price hike, Razzaque added.

On Sunday, informing the reporters about the imports of around 11 lakh tonnes of food grain to stave off any crisis, he feared that a slender crisis might occur during the next October-November.

He also said to stave off the speculated crisis import of 3 lakh tonnes of rice and 8 lakh tonnes of wheat has begun.

But he claimed that the country had adequate stock of food grains.

At present, Razzaque said on Monday, the government warehouses has 4.7 lakh tonnes of rice in their stock and another 1.4 lakh tones is under process to be stored while the amount of reserved wheat is 7 lakh tonnes.

"To ease the pressure on rice, the government is thinking of supplying wheat in the 'test relief' and 'food for work' programmes in future."

Answering a written query from Sayeda Ashrafi Papiya, the food minister said the government has already called international tender to import 3.5 lakh tonnes of wheat and one lakh tonnes of rice. Gradually more food grains would be imported.

On top of this, the government is also collecting Boro rice inside the country. It has signed deals to collect 4.93 tonnes of rice, of which 2.75 tonnes had already been stored.

The minister hoped that these steps would notably bolster the government food stock.

Source: bdnews24.com

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