Food officials have not been properly monitoring the market for long, allowing a section of unscrupulous traders to do business of essentials like rice and wheat without having licence and hoard them.
A meeting of district and divisional-level food officials held in the city yesterday acknowledged the issue and decided to follow rules strictly from now on.
Amid concern over hoarding of rice, the food ministry yesterday asked all importers, wholesalers, retailers and millers of rice and wheat to obtain licence from the Directorate General of Food by the end of this month.
The meeting, chaired by Food Minister Qamrul Islam, made a decision to issue a circular in this regard by October 10, asking all unregistered traders of rice and wheat to secure the licence by October 30 and share their food stock information every 15 days with the respective district food offices.
The meeting added that though food officials are supposed to keep track of private traders' stock situation, the monitoring is not being done properly.
"Food officials were not previously aware of the need to collect stock reports due to ignorance or other reasons,” the food minister said.
Though the government recently started a nationwide operation of the open market sale (OMS) of rice, the meeting noted that at least 25 percent of the daily OMS allocation (2,105 tonnes) remained unsold.
Sources said as the government had mostly white rice (Atap) in stock, and it was distributing the staple for OMS purpose, consumers who chose parboiled (Shiddo) rice over the white were not willing to buy the OMS rice at a subsidised rate of Tk 30 a kg.
As the government's rice reserve dipped to an all-time low at around 1.5 lakh tonnes in the beginning of the current fiscal year and farmers lost at least 20 lakh tonnes of rice due to flashfloods and fungal disease (rice blast), the government had to go for buying rice through international tender bidding, first time in the last six years.
Following some imports through government-to-government agreements and some private imports after import duty cut, the prices of rice in domestic market dropped by Tk 4-5 a kg in recent weeks, but still remain high by Tk 10-15 comparing to last year's rice price.