PABNA: – The rice market in the north is controlled by a strong syndicate of auto rice mill owners and stockists. In the last one week, the
price of thin and medium quality rice has increased from Tk 1.5 to Tk 200
per 50 kg bag. The cycle has become reckless due to lack of market monitoring, said wholesale rice traders and scrap dealers.
Wholesale rice traders, scrap sellers and farmers have complained that since the beginning of Boro paddy imports in the hat-bazaars of 16 northern districts in the last Boro season, 200 auto rice mill owners and hundreds of stockists have stockpiled lakhs of manas of paddy. The government’s Boro paddy procurement campaign has failed. Now they are controlling the price of rice at will.
According to the Rajshahi and Rangpur Agriculture Departments, the total cultivable agricultural land in the 17 districts of the northern region is 26 lakh17 thousand 354 hectares. Of these, 14 lakh 17 thousand 390 hectares are in the Rajshahi division and 12 lakh 98 thousand 984 hectares in the Rangpur division. The population of this region is about 34 million. Of these, 11 percent are children and the elderly and are unfit for food. Excluding these 11 percent, the number of food consumers in the north is just over three crores. An average person can consume 553.08 grams of food per day.
As such, the food demand of the people of this region is 56 lakh two thousand 11 tons every year. Of this, the demand of Rajshahi division is 29
lakh 26 thousand 600 tons and the demand of Rangpur division is 26 lakh 75 thousand 411 tons. Last season, the production of Aman, Aus, wheat and
Boro crops were one crore 29 lakh 45 thousand 254 tons.
Excluding the demand from the total production, it is seen that the food surplus in the region is 63 lakh 70 thousand 610 tons in one year. But in the food-grain surplus north, rice prices continue to rise. Rice prices have been
rising in the north for the past one week. The most sold are 50 kg gold sacks
at Rs 2,200 to Rs 2,300, 28 rice at Rs 2,300 to Rs 2,500, Miniket at Rs 2,600
to Rs 2,650, Basmati at Rs 2,900 to Rs 3,000, Kataribhog.
Three thousand 900 to four thousand rupees, Kalijira rice is being sold at four thousand five hundred to five thousand rupees. Ordinary traders complain that if the government does not take action against these stockists now, the syndicate will destabilize the rice market. However, the Auto Rice Mill Owners’ Association thinks that the price of rice has gone up due to higher prices. According to several sources, rice is collected from different places in the north, including hundreds of trucks from Pashna’s Ishwardi, Sirajganj’s Shahjadpur, Rangpur’s Mahiganj, Dinajpur’s Pulhat, Bogra, Naogaon, Rajshahi and other places. Brishalikha and Dakbangla are going by boat from Kolghat to different places of the country including Dhaka, Narsingdi, Chittagong, Khulna. Owners and artisans of some mills in Pabna and Sirajganj said that they could not collect paddy due to auto rice mills. Auto Rice Mill owners are unilaterally collecting paddy and controlling the rice market at will.
Apart from Jotedars, small and medium farmers do not have paddy in their hands. They said that in the entire northern region, hundreds of big traders and 200 auto rice mill owners have stockpiled lakhs of manas of paddy.
Unable to compete with the big traders, they closed their mills. An official of the Northern Rice Mill Owners’ Association, who did not want to be named, directly blamed the auto rice mills for the rise in rice prices, saying the auto rice mill owners were already controlling the market by building stocks of paddy.
As a result, the owners of small mills have become helpless as they cannot compete with the auto rice mills. Although this situation has been going on for several years, no effective initiative is being taken by the government.