DHAKA May 25 Bangladesh will speed up plans to
import rice that it brought in to build reserves and rein in
local prices after flash floods hit domestic output, government
officials said on Thursday.
As part of that, a Bangladeshi delegation is now in Vietnam
to finalise imports of the staple grain in a
government-to-government deal, said a procurement official,
declining to be identified as he was not authorised to speak
with media. He did not give further details on the transaction.
Ramped up demand from Bangladesh, the world's fourth-biggest
rice producer, could underpin prices in major exporters Vietnam,
Thailand and India.
"We are making frantic efforts to boost state reserves and
bring down prices of rice," said the procurement official.
Local rice prices have reached record highs and state
reserves are at six-year lows in the wake of flooding in April
that wiped out around 700,000 tonnes of output.
The state grains buyer earlier this month said it would ship
in 600,000 tonnes of rice after the flooding, initially issuing
two tenders for a total of 100,000 tonnes of rice, its first
such tenders since 2011.
Meanwhile, the procurement official said the government had
decided not to withdraw duty on private rice imports, looking
to protect farmers.
Bangladesh produces around 34 million tonnes of rice
annually but uses almost all its production to feed its
population of 160 million. It often requires imports, however,
to cope with shortages caused by natural calamities like floods
(Reporting by Ruma Paul; Editing by Joseph Radford)