Rice at Tk10 a kg for 5m families

The government is going to distribute rice and lentil from mid-September among 5 million ultra poor rural families at a price lower than the open market sales to clear its stocks, official sources have said

For the first time, Food Ministry will distribute lentil to low income families to meet their nutrition deficiency, providing lentil alongside rice to meet this goal, according to the minutes of the Food Planning and Monitoring Committee.

Officials from the ministry said fair price cards would be given to the families to get 30kg rice and 3kg lentil per month with a special focus on nutrition for malnourished women and children as per the Global Nutrition Report (GNR).

As per the Awami League election promise, Food Ministry will for the first time distribute rice at Tk10 per kg under its fair price card programme.

A Food Ministry proposal for fair price cards to be given to 5m ultra poor rural families will be placed at the monitoring committee meeting today. Food Minister Kamrul Islam, Finance Minister AMA Muhith and Agriculture Minister Motia Chowdhury will attend the meeting.

Kamrul Islam told Dhaka Tribune yesterday: “A Tk10 kg rice programme will start in Chilmari, Kurigram district on September 7. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is going to inaugurate it.”

“The programme will start to reduce the prices of rice in the market during the September to November period when price of rice usually increases,” he said.

A Tk10 kg rice programme will be run five times a year, he said but he did not want to answer queries about the open market sale of lentil.

At present, per kg rice is selling at Tk36 (coarse) and Tk46 (fine) in the local markets. As per the GNR 2016, published on June 14, Bangladesh made good progress in two of the eight nutrition indicators – stunting and child overweight – but is slipping back in exclusive breast feeding while doing badly in the remaining five indicators.

The five indicators are: wasting (low weight for height), anemia in women, adult overweight and obesity, adult obesity and adult diabetes.

Experts from International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) prepare the report in partnership with the World Health Organisation.

Though the rate of stunting – low height for age – is still high at 36.1% in Bangladesh, it is now dropping faster than in the past. The rate was 41% in 2011 and 51% in 2004.

Last year, Food Ministry operated open market sales of rice among 11 lakh families with 20kg of rice every month at Tk15 a kg through fair price cards.

This fiscal, Finance Ministry has allocated Tk1,300cr subsidy to Food Ministry for providing food grain for low prices. According to ministry data, about 10.99 lakh metric tonnes of food grains were stored in government granaries on August 18 but in the same period last year it was 15.19 lakh tonnes.