Bangladesh to buy rice from Myanmar, putting Rohingya crisis aside By Reuters

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By Ruma Paul DHAKA (Reuters) – Bangladesh to buy 100,000 tonnes of rice from Myanmar, setting aside a gap over the Rohingya refugee crisis as the government scrambles to overcome shortages of staple foods for the country’s more than 160 million people . High rice prices pose a problem for the Dhaka government, which is stepping up efforts to replenish its depleted reserves after floods last year devastated crops and pushed prices to record highs. Muslim-majority Bangladesh and Buddhist-majority Myanmar have been at odds with the more than 1 million Rohingya Muslim refugees in camps in southern Bangladesh. The vast majority of them fled Myanmar in 2017 from a military-led offensive that UN investigators say was carried out with “genocidal intent,” claims Myanmar denies. Bangladesh will import white rice in a government-to-government deal at $ 485 a ton, including cost, insurance and freight (CIF), said Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum, secretary of the country’s Food Ministry. “Our top priority is to lower rice prices,” Khanum told Reuters on Sunday, adding that the government could buy up to 10 million tonnes, while private traders can buy another 10 million tonnes in the year through June. The agreement will be signed soon and the rice will be delivered in April in phases, he said. Bangladesh is also buying 150,000 tonnes of rice from India’s state-owned company NAFED in a government-to-government deal, while it has issued a series of tenders to buy the grain. “We could buy more rice from India in state-to-state agreements,” Khanum said, adding that the Food Ministry was in talks with several other Indian state agencies. Bangladesh, traditionally the third largest rice producer in the world with around 35 million tonnes annually, uses almost all of its production to feed its people. Often imports are still required to cope with shortages caused by floods or droughts.

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