Indian hike pushes up rice price in Chittagong
Monday, 31 March 2008


The Indian government's decision to raise the minimum export price of non-basmati rice, which it announced Thursday, has already pushed up prices of coarse rice in the port city though importers and wholesalers are offering contradictory views.

The largest rice stockist-and-wholesaler in the country, housed at Chaktai-Khatunganj, told Sunday there was no dearth of rice in the market but importers tightening their supplies might result in artificial crises.

Importers, on the other hand, said an increase of only Tk 20-25 per maund should not affect the wholesale or retail markets to any mentionable extent.

However, the stockist-and-wholesaler said the wholesale prices actually increased from Tk 40-50 to Tk 200 per sack of parboiled and boiled varieties of rice. The retail markets registered an increase of Tk 1.50-2.00 per kg of coarse rice, they said.

Rice dealers, however, disclosed that the rice now available in the market had been imported some time back and the Indian government's announcement made only days ago should not impact the price of rice that came into the country up to two months ago.

The reason behind this overnight price inflation, some dealers said, was simply the propensity of importers to restrict supplies and create an artificial demand so that prices would automatically rise.

Omar Azam, general secretary of Chaktai's rice and paddy traders association told Sunday that the present trend may last another three or four days, though the price hikes have not been caused by any genuine crisis.

"It's because of the media spreading news of the Indian decision," he added. But he was optimistic that rice prices would stabilise when the four-lakh-tonne consignment of rice from India arrived, after which the boro crop would be harvested.

A Chaktai rice dealer, not wanting to be named, said dealers are compelled to raise prices when importers raise prices—though the importers should not be hiking prices since supply of rice in the market was good and there was no real scarcity.

Abul Bashar Chowdhury, proprietor of Masud and Brothers, the country's leading rice importers, told Sunday: "Importers have slapped an increase of only Tk 20-25 per maund in the last 24 hours, which should not be influencing retail or wholesale rice prices to any disturbing degree."

However, retail rice vendor Abdur Razzak, based at Reazuddin Bazaar said Sunday that different varieties of rice have seen increases in price by Tk 1 to 2 per kg in the past 24 hours.

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