Rice price hike leaves marginal people in distress

Published : 11 Jan 2022 09:16 PM

In 16 districts of the north, known as paddy granaries of the country, the harvest of Aman paddy is over, and now there are piles of paddy in the farmer's yard. The threshing work is going on. Still, the fear of price hike is not over. The prices of all types of rice are increasing at a high rate. The price of unpolished rice has also gone up along with other daily necessities. The price of unpolished rice, which is within reach, has reached the quota of fifty Tk per kilogram. The lower class people are in great danger due to the price hike.

 A family of five or six in northern region has to pay 100 to 150 Tk for rice twice a day. They are struggling to make ends meet. In the first week of the New Year, the price of the product has increased from 150 to 200 Tk per bag (50 kg) depending on the quality and variety. Consumers have demanded market monitoring to curb rice prices in times of crisis. According to retailers and wholesalers, prices of all types of rice have gone up due to arbitrary pricing by a handful of rice mill owners and warehouse owners. They are blaming the rice mill owners and rice corporate companies of North Bengal for this.

  Morark Ali, a resident of Kurigram, came to the divisional city of Rangpur and currently drive a rickshaw. He lives in 24 Hazari area of the city. On his way home at 8 pm on Monday, he found out that even the price of unpolished rice is 50 Tk per kilogram. Talking to Mubarak at the time, he said that a family of seven, including parents and children, needs an average of 2.5 kg of rice per day. For this reason, it is very difficult for him to raise budget for rice. They have to spend twice a week without eating.

Most of the marginalized people in the region are under pressure due to the volatile rice market during the peak season. Especially working people like day laborers, rickshaw-van drivers are in extreme disarray.

It can be seen that at City Bazar, CO Bazar, Dhap, Burirhat, Lalbagh Bazar of Rangpur city, Swarna and Guti Swarna varieties of unpolished rice are being sold at 50 to 52 Tk per kg. The price of medium quality (Miniket and Katari) rice is 62 to 65 Tk. Good quality fine rice (Nazirshail and Jirashail) is being sold at a higher price which is being kept at Tk 6 to 72 per kg. 

Milon Sikder, director of Chowdhury Traders, a rice warehouse in the Mahiganj area of the city, said last week the sack of Miniket rice (50 kg) was Tk 3,000 with a current market price of Tk 3,500 and Bridhan-28 (50 kg) sack was Tk 2,200. The current market price is Tk 2,500. Traders in the wholesale market believe that there is a manipulation behind this unusual increase in the price of rice. They say small husking mills no longer run. The owners of big auto rice mills have increased the price of rice on various pretexts by buying and stocking paddy at low prices.

According to mill owners, rice traders, retailers and farmers, about 800 auto rice mill owners in the north are controlling the price of rice by building their own stockpiles. Expressing concern, the common traders say that after the harvesting of transplanted Aman paddy in this region, the working people do not have any work in their hands, they are left stranded in their families. On top of that, they have lost their way as the prices of essential commodities including rice continue to rise. Hundreds of truckloads of rice from Rangpur's Mahiganj, Dinajpur's Pulhat, Bogura, Naogaon and Rajshahi go to different parts of the country including Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna every day. Auto rice mill owners have been raising the price of rice for several days in these places on the pretext of hostile weather. If the government does not take action against these illegal hoarders now, this syndicate will destabilize the rice market.

Abu Patwari of Rangpur, Mohid Chowdhury and several other storekeepers said that they could not collect rice due to auto rice mills. The owners of the auto-rice mills are unilaterally collecting rice from the market and controlling the rice market at will. They said that 500 to 600 big traders and auto rice mill owners are controlling the rice business in the whole northern region. Unable to compete with the big traders, they have closed their mills. Abul Kashem, general secretary of Rangpur Rice Mill Owners' Association, directly blamed the auto rice mills for the rise in rice prices, saying auto rice mill owners were already controlling the market by building stocks of paddy. As a result, small traders have become helpless as they cannot keep up with the auto rice mills. The auto rice mills have also increased the prices of all types of rice on various pretexts besides stocks.

Small rice traders say rice mill owners are now supplying less rice than before, including raising rice prices at the rice mills. As a result, they have to buy at higher prices. This is forcing them to sell at higher prices at the retail level. On the other hand, mill owners and storekeepers say that the price of paddy has gone up at the farmer level. In different parts of the country, the price of paddy has gone up by a maximum of Tk 100 per quintal. Following this, the prices of all types of rice have gone up in the big warehouses and mills of the country. Now this has affected