As inflation continues to rise in the country, prices of sugar have reached a record high. In Dhaka and Chattogram, the two major cities of Bangladesh, sugar is retailing as high as 125 per kilogram further straining the wallets of the consumers.
State-owned Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) compiled Sugar Price Data in Dhaka’s markets as the commodity became scarce in many stores. The team went to 25 retail stores in Dhaka and Chattogram but found sugar only in 15 stores. 10 stores were without any sugar, specially packaged ones as the supply of the sweetener is much lower than the requirements of stores.
Over the past week, prices of sugar have risen 22 percent from Tk110 to Tk115 per kg. The present prices of sugar were 45 percent higher on a Year-on-Year basis.
In Bangladesh, the total cropping area for sugarcane is around 425,000 acres of land and the annual production touches 7.5 million tonnes. Out of which, only 2.28 million tonnes are disbursed to sugar mills and the remainder is used for the manufacture of molasses.
In total, Bangladesh produces around 150,000 tonnes of sugar, 100,000 tonnes of molasses, and 800,000 tonnes of bagasse on an annual basis. The country lacks efficient agricultural facilities in terms of sugarcane and it ranks the lowest in the per acre yield of sugarcane which is only about 15 tonnes.
The Supply Crunch
The country’s annual demand for sugar is 25 lakh tonnes. Bangladesh has imported around 18 lakh tonnes of unrefined sugar so far this year. Unrefined sugar needs refining which requires a steady gas supply. But, the country has been facing a squeeze in the gas supply which is disrupting the refining process and thus causing a supply crisis.
Refiners have pointed out that the refining process has witnessed a dip of 50 percent. Moreover, refiners complained that they are having trouble opening letters of credit to import sugar (unrefined) due to the bank’s lack of cooperation on account of dollar shortages around the world. Refiners are also demanding cuts in duty on imports from 30 percent to 10 percent to facilitate seamless trade.
Anamul Haque, owner of Ahmed Store in the Hamzarbag area of Chattogram city said
“For the last week, we have not been getting sugar from dealers as per the demand. So, prices have gone up.” “For the last two days, I have had no sugar to sell,” he added.
Notably, the government of Bangladesh denies any form of a sugar shortage. A report released by the Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection reported that the country has, at present, sugar reserves of 375,000 tonnes as of October 23 and there was no shortage of raw sugar.
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