DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh will import 150,000 tonnes of rice from India in a state deal priced at $440 a tonne, two food ministry officials said on Wednesday, as the government races to restore depleted reserves and combat high prices.
Traditionally the world’s fourth-biggest rice producer, Bangladesh’s imports of the grain are set to hit their highest levels in a decade after floods damaged its crops.
India’s state-run National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) will supply the non-basmati parboiled rice within 60 days after signing the deal, which will take place soon, the officials said.
The price includes shipping, insurance and discharge costs.
Bangladesh had already sealed a deal with India’s another state agency PEC to import 100,000 tonnes of rice at $455 a tonne.
Rice is a staple food for Bangladesh’s 160 million people and high prices pose a problem for the government, which faces a national election next year.
Despite deals with several rice exporting countries such as Vietnam, Bangladesh is still struggling to build its reserves, after a deal with Cambodia for 250,000 tonnes was scrapped last month over a delay in shipments.
Strong demand from Bangladesh helped push Asian rice prices to multi-year highs in June.
Bangladesh’s state grains buyer has also issued a series of invitations to tender as it looks to import a total of 1.5 million tonnes of rice in the year to June 2018.
A local tender to buy 100,000 tonnes of parboiled rice to be sourced internationally, will close on Dec. 14.
Rice at government warehouses stood at nearly 400,000 tonnes, well below the normal level of around 1 million tonnes.
In August, the government cut an import duty on rice for the second time in two months. The lower duty has prompted purchases to be made by private dealers, with most of the deals being struck with neighbouring India.
Bangladesh imported more than 1.8 million tonnes during July-November period, food ministry data showed.
Editing by David Evans