06/24/2017, 09.59
BANGLADESH
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Dhaka, price of rice doubles: millions of poor struggle to survive

by Sumon Corraya

The cost of cereals has increased due to the collapse of production. Crops destroyed by floods. In the last year the price increase was 42%. Dhaka imports 250,000 tons of rice from Vietnam, but has lost 600,000.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - With rice prices costing more than double, millions of people in Bangladesh can barely survive. A few days ago, Agriculture Minister Maita Chowdhury explained that cereal production, the basic dietary food, has collapsed "because of the devastating floods that have destroyed the crop in five districts." That is why since June last year, rice prices rose by an average of 42%.

Experts had already launched an alarm over crop failures. There were more floods this year, causing landslides in several parts of the country costing  the lives of more than 150 people. Official estimates show that the losses amount to 600 thousand tons of rice. Unofficial estimates say that the amount of lost corn is far greater, around 2.2 million tonnes.

Monir Miha, a rickshaw driver in the Tongi area in Gazipur (near Dhaka), earns 300 pounds a day (around € 3.30), with which  he can buy two pounds of raw rice at the price of 100 Taka. Speaking to AsiaNews he reports that last year a pound of rice "cost 26 taka, and now it has reached 48-50 taka".

He complains that with the money remaining from the daily earnings, "I also have to buy fruit, vegetables, meat or fish, oil and other things." He comes from a small rural village. "I came to town - he says - to survive and have a better future. But the price of rice has risen exponentially and this is very painful for me. I had to tell my wife and children to eat less food,  to reduce the cost of the whole family. "

The same situation is also found among the needy Christians. Sukumar Corraya reports: "First I paid about 34 Taka for a pound of rice, now it's 60. I'm worried about this increase." There is a risk, he adds, that it "will soon exceed the entire monthly income. I am already asking  for money on loan each month. "

According to the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (Cab), over the last 10 years the price has risen more than double. The state-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (Tcb) states that the biggest increase occurred most over the last year.

Meanwhile, the Dhaka government is trying to run on stocks and has decided to import 250,000 tons of rice from Vietnam to fill the warehouses after the flooding of the rice fields. Ambassador Tran Van Khoa said the first delivery will arrive in Chittagong over a 15-day period.

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