Strong syndicate active
Abu Sazzad: The country is likely going to face an artificial crisis for affordability of essentials including rice to witness the recent price hike of paddy in the field level, said experts. A strong syndicate is active to raise the price of essential commodities especially the rice for the corona virus panic putting pressure on the consumer level. Meanwhile, the syndicate members and vested traders have started to purchase the paddy at a higher price for creating an artificial crisis in the upcoming days.
Although the price of paddy increased significantly in the root level, but farmers are not gaining profit, said farmers adding the major portion of the paddy already went to the hands of middlemen and stock holders.
Farmers purchased their paddy at a rate Tk 600- Tk 650 for per mound to the middlemen and they are now selling their stock paddy to the syndicate members and vested traders at a rate Tk 1000 -Tk 1200. Meanwhile, the paddy price has marked almost double within the difference of one week in the major padding yielding areas including Rangpur, Noagan, Sherpur and Kushtia.
Md. Hasan, a farmer of Shantidaga area under Kushtia sadar upazila said, he got Tk 650 to purchase per mound Sorna variety paddy last week, but he purchased at a rate of Tk 1,000 this week, but, now per mound Sarna variety paddy price is Tk 900- Tk1,000.
However, per mound Sarna 5& 49 variety paddy is selling between Tk 1,100 to Tk1,150 while it was Tk 700 -Tk 750 in the last week. The price of a mound Katari Vougue variety paddy is Tk 1,300 while it was Tk 900 in the last week. During a spot visit in different city markets, the correspondent found that all verities of rice increased between Tk 5 to Tk10 in a month. According to TCB, in the last one month, the price of essential commodities went up by five percent. Within a month, sugar price increased by 8 percent. The prices of coarse rice, large grains, eggs, potatoes and vegetables are only increasing, said TCB data.
Industry insiders said, country’s rice market is fully controlled by a syndicate and the quarter is increasing price for gaining higher profit. Meanwhile, the prices of other essential commodities have increased for corona virus outbreak. Consumers said, the authorities have failed to arrest price spirals as a strong syndicate is active in the market to manipulate the prices by applying unfair tactics.
Under this circumstance, experts are concern for sudden price hike of the paddy because it will affect on the rice price in the upcoming days. As the traditional monitoring is failing to keep market price stable, the intervention of RAB is needed, they opined.
Talking to Daily Industry, Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzak said, the government is now procuring paddy directly from the farmers so that they can gain the fair price. The paddy prices have increased by Tk 100-Tk 200 per maund.
“We are concern on the price hike of rice. Despite having rice in stock, media reports are coming up over rive price spirals and the price has gone up by Tk4-5 per kg in the last one week”, he said.
Bangladesh has achieved much success in food production and the government has taken a number of initiatives to boost food production as well as to ensure food security, said the minister. “We asked the respective authorities concerned to monitor the market regularly as well as to keep the market price stable ahead of Ramadan.”, Razzak said.
Ghulam Rahman, President of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) told that despite having a huge supply of rice, a quarter is trying to manipulate the market. The syndicate members and vested traders are presenting lame excuse of the disruption of supply chain due to corona virus outbreak. “We cannot accept the price hike of rice as the country witnessed bumper production of paddy in last two seasons. The authorities concerned will have to undertake necessary measures to spoil the attempt of the syndicate members to keep market price stable”, Rahman said.
Commenting the overnight price hike of paddy, CAB president said, the vested groups are undertaking the benefit of corona virus panic and purchasing the paddy at a higher rate which would help creating artificial crisis of rice ahead of the holy Ramadan. “It is a good tactic of the vested traders ahead of the Ramadan to raise the price of rice through creating artificial crisis”, he added.
He blamed that a syndicate and lack of government monitoring are mainly responsible for price hike of the essential commodities. He has underscored the need for maintain coordination among traders, government and consumers to keep the market stable. The unscrupulous business syndicates must be brought under strict punishment to spoil their evil attempt of price hiking.
Khodoker Golam Moazzem, Research Director of Centre for Policy Dialougue (CPD) said, actually, the low income group is used to purchase the local made product. “So, there is no reason for the price hike of essential commodities because of bumper production”, he said. The government will have to ensure smooth supply chain so that the vested traders and syndicate members are not able to create artificial crisis as well as to raise the price of essential commodities.