Bangladesh to import 100,000 tonnes of white rice from Myanmar

Amid strained relations with Myanmar over the Rohingya refugee crisis, Bangladesh has finalised the deal on procuring rice from its Southeast Asian neighbour in a bid to bring down prices in local markets.

Published : 18 Sept 2017, 10:08 AM
Updated : 18 Sept 2017, 12:06 PM

Bangladesh will buy 100,000 tonnes of white rice at $442 per tonne, Food Minister Qamrul Islam told the media in Dhaka on Monday.

"We had a meeting with Myanmar representatives Sunday," said the minister adding that an approval from the Prime Minister's Office is required to take the process ahead.

Food Minister Qamrul Islam. File photo

"The process to import will start after approvals from the PMO and the cabinet committees on economic affairs and public purchase," Islam said replying to a question on when the rice is expected to arrive.

More than 410,000 Rohingyas have poured into Bangladesh in just three weeks as the army continues its crackdown on the insurgents, who attacked 30 police outposts and an army base in northwestern Rakhine state.

UN agencies fear that the total number may reach one million by the year-end if the situation remains unchanged in Myanmar.

Bangladesh's rice reserves hit a low this year following two rounds of flooding forcing the government to open initiatives to import for the first time in six years.

The import duty on rice was also revised down to 2 percent from 26 percent. But the price of rice has soared back up.

Government data, often lower than market prices, shows an 18 percent rise in a month while 50 percent in a year.

The coarse variety is currently on sale at no less than Tk 50 per kg.

To adjust the market prices, the government has doubled the price of rice for its open market sale or OMS to Tk 30 per kilogram.