Bangladeshi farmers will suffer but national reserves of rice will soften blow to rice stocks. © Mamunur Rashid/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Bangladeshi farmers will suffer but national reserves of rice will soften blow to rice stocks. © Mamunur Rashid/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Bangladeshi rice growers suffer heavy losses

14 August 2019

Flooding has wiped out some 400,000 tonnes of rice in Bangladesh, the country's Department of Agriculture has warned. 

Flash floods and landslides have been impacting infrastructure and displacing communities since the monsoon season began in June. These have damaged crops in the northern region of Bangladesh and affected more than six million people in the country.

Bangladesh is heavily reliant on imports from other rice producers in the region, such as India and Thailand, during natural disasters. 

Mir Nurul Alam, director general at the Department of Agricultural Extension, told Reuters last week that the damage to the rice crop will cause a “huge loss for the farmers”.

However, he added that, due to national reserves, the shortage is unlikely to have much of an “impact on the overall rice stocks”.

In response to the recent flooding, Dr Abdur Razzaque, agriculture minister, said that the government has contributed 638 million taka ($7.5 million) in emergency aid for farmers in flood-hit areas. 

"We have taken a slew of measures to ensure fair prices for the farmers ... instructions have been given to (district officials) to buy rice directly from farmers," he commented.

A farm rehabilitation plan is also underway to provide free seed and fertilizer to farmers for the next crop season.

Razzaque visited affected areas in the Manikganj district, in central Bangladesh, last month, and distributed relief supplies to the flood victims.

The blow to the rice crop comes as growers are already under pressure, with farmers finding it difficult to get good prices for their crop. This is mainly due to a surplus of rice because of high rice imports and the lack of overseas trade as a result of a ban on rice exports.

In May, Bangladesh virtually doubled its rice import duty, raising it from 28% to 55%. It also lifted the export ban to help support domestic farmers.

Bangladesh is estimated to be the world’s fourth-biggest rice producer with nearly 35 million tonnes produced each year.

However, the country has struggled to get overseas deals since the export ban was lifted because its rice is more expensive than that of India or Thailand.

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