The government yesterday decided to buy 50,000 tonnes of parboiled rice from an Indian company at $416 per tonne to replenish depleting public food stocks.
PK Agri Link Pvt will supply the grain from Birbhum, said Additional Secretary to the Cabinet Division Abu Saleh Mostafa Kamal after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Purchase.
The West Bengal-based company was the lowest bidder and the purchase price per kilogramme stands at Tk 35.27.
The company needs to supply the rice within 40 days of awarding of the contract, said food ministry officials.
The highest bid was $427.5 for each tonne.
The decision came two weeks after the Directorate of Food floated the tender in the international market on not being able to source expected amounts from domestic harvests this year for a lack of interest of farmers and millers.
Soaring prices resulting from the apprehension of reduced yields due to inclement weather, recurrent floods and pandemic-induced fears of food shortages were also blamed.
The Directorate of Food so far floated tenders to buy 100,000 tonnes of the staple from abroad.
It is likely to buy another 100,000 tonnes to increase stocks, said Director General Sarwar Mahmud.
This is the first time in three years that the government turned to overseas markets to refill stocks and intervene in the market through various social safety net schemes to curb a spike in the prices of the staple food.
Foods stocks in public storages dipped 42 per cent year-on-year to 8 lakh tonnes as of November 30, according to the food ministry.
On the other hand, prices of rice soared.
Yesterday, traders sold coarse rice, consumed mainly by low-income people, in the range of Tk 41 to Tk 51 per kg in Dhaka, which was 26 per cent higher than its value on the same day a year ago, showed data from the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh.
Mahmud said it would decide on making purchases from international markets based on the situation of the local market.
"We are monitoring. We may not need to import if prices fall in the internal market," he said.
The food office decided to buy 200,000 tonnes of paddy from growers and 600,000 tonnes of rice from millers from the current season of Aman rice crop.
Since the beginning of procurement last month, the Directorate of Food could buy 90 tonnes of rice and 10 tonnes of paddy from the ongoing harvest of the second biggest crop.