On the news of starting rice imports from India to stabilise the local market, the sale of paddy and rice at Brahmanbaria's Ashuganj wholesale market has dropped by about 30% compared to normal times.
The fear of a drop in price due to imported Indian rice has driven down the prices of a 50 kg bag of rice by Tk100 and a maund of paddy by around Tk50-60 in the Ashuganj wholesale market during the last one week.
Currently, BR-29 paddy sells at Tk1,100-1,120 and coarse paddy at Tk900-920 per maund. Around ten days ago BR-29 paddy was sold at Tk1,150-1,160 and coarse paddy at Tk950-970 per maund in Ashuganj – the eastern region's largest paddy market located on the banks of the River Meghna.
Along with the price of paddy, the price of rice has also dropped. Currently, the rice mills in Ashuganj sell a 50 kg bag of BR-28 at Tk2,450 and BR-29 at Tk2,350, which are Tk100 less than the prices at which they were sold a week ago, said the traders in Ashuganj.
Rice traders in Ashuganj said at least one lakh maunds of paddy are sold daily during the peak season, but for the past one week, around 60,000-70,000 maunds of paddy are being sold daily at Ashuganj market, which is about 30% less than normal.
Md Jalal Mia, a rice trader in Ashuganj, said, "Rice mill owners are buying less paddy due to fear of loss. This has reduced the price of rice. If the import of Indian rice continues, the price of rice produced locally will fall further and the traders will incur losses."
Md Sharif Miah, a rice trader in Ashuganj, said whenever rice is imported from India, the price of rice decreases in the local market. For this reason, when the government allowed the import of rice from India, traders reduced the purchase of paddy and rice.
Ziaul Karim Khan Saju, general secretary of Ashuganj Upazila Auto Rice Mill Owners' Association, told TBS, "Mill owners are now buying the minimum quantity of paddy they need to keep the mills running.
"If the price of rice falls further, the traders will incur more losses. So, the mill owners are buying less paddy. If the import of Indian rice continues, then the sale of rice in the Ashuganj wholesale market will further decrease."
Apart from Brahmanbaria, paddy produced in Haor areas of Kishoreganj, Netrokona, Sunamganj, Sylhet, Habiganj and Moulvibazar comes to the Ashuganj wholesale market.
Wholesalers from this market go to farmers' houses, buy paddy and bring it to the BOC Ghat of the River Meghna by boat. The Ashuganj market supplies paddy to 250 rice mills in the district. Rice produced in the rice mills here is supplied to different locations in Dhaka, Chattogram and Sylhet.