The government is considering fixing the prices of lentil to rein in soaring prices of the key essential in the kitchen market, officials said.
As part of the move, the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) has asked the Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (BTTC) to provide a detailed report on demand and production of lentil as well as its local and global market prices, they added.
When contacted, a senior official of the MoC said, "We have instructed the BTTC to analyse local and international prices of lentil along with its demand and production in the country."
The National Committee on Daily Essential Commodity Marketing and Distribution under the MoC is expected to sit with the traders concerned in a couple of days.
They would discuss about rationalising the rising prices of the item, so that consumers can buy it at affordable prices from the market, he added.
He, however, noted that currently, different business groups are dominating the lentil markets across the country.
"So, we want to reduce and fix the prices of the item through discussion with the large business groups concerned."
Prices of lentil increased notably in last one month, adding to the woes of common people, who are already suffering due to the rise in prices of other essential commodities.
Largely consumed lentils witnessed a hike by Tk 15-20 a kg in the retail market in a month, said grocers.
According to the state-run Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) data on September 17, the price of coarse lentil increased by 16.67 per cent a kg, while medium lentil increased by Tk 2.63 per cent, and small lentil increased by 2.38 per cent.
Coarse and medium quality lentils were selling at Tk 90-110 a kg and finer quality at Tk 125-140 a kg in Dhaka city, according to grocers.
Traders claimed that rising import prices of lentil caused the price hike in the local market. Besides, delay in releasing consignments from the ports also created a negative impact on the market.
Currently, the TCB sells lentil at Tk 55 a kg through its open market sale (OMS) programme.
The country's annual demand for lentil is nearly 0.5 million tonnes, including 70,000 tonnes of additional lentil for the fasting month of Ramadan.
The country's annual import of pulse is 0.8-0.9 million tonnes. Of the total, lentil comprises 0.48 million tonnes, while chickpea 0.2 million tonnes, according to the MoC.
The government's first priority is to keep the prices of key essential items stable in the local market, the officials said.
The government has set a target to procure more than 0.273 million tonnes of key essential commodities by the TCB for the current fiscal year (FY), 2021-22, as part of its market intervention strategy.
The items include edible oil, sugar, onion, red lentil, gram and date. The TCB has already started procuring the commodities through open tenders and quotations.
Under the plan, the government has set a target to procure 48,000 tonnes of lentil, 75,000 tonnes of soybean oil, 75,000 tonnes of onion, and 65,000 tonnes of sugar in the FY.