Friday, April 04, 2008

Rice prices rises

I have previous linked to stories of the food crisis that is engulfing the world here and also at the African blog Socialist Banner , but as it is indeed a world wide phenonomen . India is restricting the export of rice .

But in Bangladesh the rising prices are now effecting those of the "middle classes" .

It is reported , Government-run outlets selling subsidised rice and other basic commodities are now being besieged by members of the middle class as food prices continue to rise.
In Dhaka people are queing up for hours a day in the midday sun to buy 5kg of rice per head under the government’s Open Market Sale scheme - established whenever a potential food crisis is perceived. The authorities have opened over 2,500 such outlets nationwide, with an additional 3,800 set to open in the coming days. Other food essentials, including pulses, flour, oil, onions and sugar are also rising after remaining relatively stable for the last two weeks, increasing by nearly 50 percent in the last six months, with the prices of chickens, eggs and fish also going up.

“Middle class people can neither stand in the long queues to buy cheap rice and pulses, nor have the money to buy those from the market. We are the sufferers of the present price hikes,” Mansur Ali, a senior clerk in a government office “I am the lone earner in my family. My two children are very young and my wife is pregnant with the third. She needs extra nutrition, but I can’t even buy food for the family,” he said." No one in my family has ever stood in an OMS queue. These are meant for the poor,” said Ali, whose 10-year-old son waited for four hours in such a queue to buy rice.

Earning just under US$100 a month, Ali now supplements his income by providing private tutoring in the evenings, earning another $7.5 a month to cope. However, that too may not be enough. According to the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies , purchasing power declined by around four percent due to higher inflation in 2007, propelled by 16 percent food inflation in December alone - and this in a country where about 40 percent of families at or just below the poverty line of $1 a day are already spending around 70 percent of their income on food

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