Rice prices in the city’s wholesale markets dropped by Tk 20 per maund in 24 hours till 5:00pm yesterday.
Wholesalers said the prices may remain unchanged for quite some time. The price fall, however, did not trickle into the retail markets.
The price of Parija, a medium-quality fine rice that was sold at Tk 1,180-1,200 per maund (37.32 kg) Thursday, was sold for Tk 1,160 to Tk 1,180 a maund yesterday.
A maund of BR-28 (Lata) rice, also a mid-quality fine rice, was selling at between Tk 1,150 and Tk 1,160 on the wholesale market yesterday. The variety was sold for Tk 1,170 to 1,180 per maund a day before, on Thursday.
Irri, a coarse variety, was being sold for Tk 1,060-1,070 a maund yesterday which was sold at between Tk 1,080 and Tk 1,090 per maund on the day before.
A maund of fine-variety Miniket rice was selling at Tk 1,390-1,410 yesterday. It was sold at Tk 1,410-1,430 Thursday.
However, prices of common varieties of Irri, Parija, Najirshail and Miniket did not mark any fall on the retail market yesterday. Retailers were selling a kg of Irri at Tk 32-33, Parija at Tk34-35, Najirshail at Tk35-37 and Miniket at Tk38-40.
Except for Irri, prices of all the said varieties rather spiked by Tk1-2 per kg last week.
The general secretary of Badamtali-Babubazar wholesale rice market in the city, Nizam Uddin, attributed the price fall to increased supply and decreased sale.
"Sale dropped as many people purchased rice when Boro harvest started entering the market. Many city residents also carted in rice from their village homes while a good number of labourers went back to their villages during the harvest", he said.
Masud Rana, manager of Ekata Rice Agency at Mohammadpur Krishi Market in the city who is now in Kushtia to procure rice, told The Daily Star over the phone that many farmers who stockpiled rice in order to sell it at high prices started to sell their produce as prices remained stable for the past few days.
The wholesale price also came down by Tk 15-20 per maund in Kushtia yesterday, he said noting that prices there have been decreasing for the last two days.
Prices of coarse varieties peaked Tk 1,300 and fine varieties Tk 1,650 per maund in the first week of April. Prices started coming down from late April as Boro harvest began to enter the city markets.
Prices, however, saw a fresh hike after May 10 as farmers, hoarders and businessmen started to stockpile the grain in anticipation of rise in prices again. The government’s rice-procurement programme also contributed to the spike at the time.
Rice wholesalers said prices usually witness a fall at the start of Boro harvest in mid-April every year and hit the rock bottom in the middle of May.
This year, however, has been an exception on past years in that prices spiked at the start of the harvest and still range between Tk 1,060 and 1,410 a maund despite a bumper harvest while the price bracket in the city markets in May last year were Tk 680-870 per maund.
Pias Costa, director general of the food directorate, told The Daily Star that they would collect 15 lakh tonnes of rice within August 30, adding that 1.25 lakh tonnes have so far been collected.
Food-directorate officials said this year the projected Boro production is 1.75 crore tonnes. Last year, it was 1.45 crore tonnes.
They said the government will import 5 lakh tonnes of rice from India this year; as of last week, the administration imported only 80,000 tonnes. The remaining consignments will be trucked in two-three months.