DHAKA: Bangladesh is lifting a ban on rice exports to support farmers after record crops and bulging domestic reserves left prices below production costs, the finance minister said on Sunday.
Bangladesh, the world's fourth-biggest rice producer, banned overseas shipments of common varieties in May 2008 following a spike in prices and banned all exports a year later.
“We are planning to export rice as we are now self-sufficient in rice production. The price of coarse variety rice is 24 taka to 25 taka ($0.30) a kg whereas the production cost .. is 26.50 taka,” Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith told reporters after an inter-ministerial meeting on food.
He gave no timeframe when the export ban would be lifted.
The minister said that retail rice prices in Bangladesh were the lowest in the region and needed to rise to 28 taka per kg to cover production costs.
In April, the government ended a ban on exports of aromatic rice.
It typically exported a small quantity of aromatic rice to the United States, Britain and Middle East, home to a large number of Bangladeshis.
This year Bangladesh is heading for record rice production of more than 34 million tonnes after two successive years of record output.
The government imported an all-time high of more than 2.2 million tonnes of rice and wheat in the 2010/11 fiscal year, with rice accounting for 1.3 million tonnes. In the last fiscal year that ended in June rice imports dropped to 350,000 tonnes.
The south Asian country produces enough rice to feed its population of 160 million, but often requires imports to cope with shortages caused by natural calamities such as floods or droughts.