Ban on non-fragrant rice exports extended to ensure price hikes

The government has extended the ongoing ban on non-fragrant rice exports to the fiscal year 2014-15 (July 1, 2014 – June 30, 2015) in order to ensure supplies and control price hikes in the local market, according to a gazette notification issued by the Commerce Ministry last week, local sources report.

pariza rice panicleThe notification stated that the government would allow export of aromatic/fragrant rice varieties such as Kalojira, Chinigura, Chiniatop, Kataribhog, Madanbhog, Radhunipagal, Banshphul, Khorma, BR 5 (Dulabhog) and BR 34, 37, 38 and 50 with the prior permission from the Commerce Ministry.

The government first banned rice exports during the global food crisis in 2008, but lifted the ban for fragrant rice varieties in June 2012 to make space for new harvest and improve prices, but continued ban on non-fragrant rice varieties for the fiscal years 2012-13 and 2013-14 as well.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh’s rice imports have been increasing since the beginning of this fiscal year due to increase of local rice prices and decline in international prices. The country imported around 374,560 tons of rice as of June 18, 2014, according to data from the Food Ministry. Around 99% of this year’s imports or around 373,500 tons are imported by the private sector.

However, the government of Bangladesh has set a target of importing around 200,000 tons of rice in the fiscal year (2014-15) to replenish government rice reserves and ensure food security, according to the Directorate of Food. Bangladesh government rice stocks stood at 791,350 tons as on June 22, 2014, up about 11% from about 715,520 tons during the same period last year. The government seems to be preparing for worst scenarios amid expectations of El Nino hitting Asian countries, affecting rice production.

The FAO estimates 2014 aggregate paddy rice production at around 34.84 million tons basis milled), slightly above an estimated 2013 paddy rice production of around 34.5 million tons basis milled due to increased planted area, favorable weather conditions, and government support to the rice sector, in the form of seed, fertilizer and fuel subsidies. The FAO price data shows that average wholesale prices of coarse rice have been declining since the beginning of this year. They declined to about Tk 29,677 (around $382) per ton in June 2014, down by about 8% from about Tk 32,130 (around $413) per ton in January 2014, but up about 5% from their year ago levels of around Tk 28,200 (around $362) per ton.

USDA estimates Bangladesh MY 2013-14 (July – June) milled rice production at 34.59 million tons, up about 2% from an estimated 33.82 million tons produced in MY 2012-13. It estimates MY 2014-15 production to increase further to 34.8 million tons.