Govt eyes rice price at Tk 18 per kg

January 30, 2009, Dhaka
Food Minister Abdur Razzak said yesterday the government would be “satisfied” if it could bring the price of rice down to a around Tk 18-19 per kg.
“But, the price will not fall abruptly as the process depends on the overall food production,” Razzak told a press conference at the food ministry on his return from the FAO Madrid summit on food security. The minister hoped that with the steps taken by the government, including fertiliser cost cuts, subsidy in fuel and other sectors, production would be boosted. “With bumper production, prices will fall automatically,” he added.
The UK has pledged to give $700 million to Bangladesh in food production and energy assiatance, said the minister.
He also said that other donor countries have promised to continue their financial and food aid.
Razzak said the Madrid summit reviewed progress since the Rome summit in 2008, and reaffirmed its commitments, which involves donating 0.7 per cent of the GDP of industrialised countries to increase world food production and eradicate global poverty.
“In just a year, the number of hungry people has increased by 750 million and today the number stands at more than one billion people,” said the minister.
Razzak also said that as Kenya is facing acute food shortages, the summit decided to send emergency assistance worth $200 million to Kenya.
A decision was also taken to make the Bangladesh’s IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) and 12 other food-related bodies more effective, he said.
“Due to lack of foreign aid, many of these bodies are inoperative at the moment.’
On his meeting with FAO director general Jacques Diouf, the minister said Diouf promised to assist Bangladesh with improved seed varieties.
Regarding suitable seeds for coastal areas, he said that though two varieties existed, research is still going on for an improved strain.
“In this regard we have requested help from different organisations and if we manage to get that coveted seed, there will be a revolution in the agricultural sector,” said the minister.


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