Retail price of food: During the reporting quarter, the national average retail prices of rice and wholemeal wheat flour (atta) decreased slightly from the quarter of AprilJune 2015. The price of lentils (masur) started increasing in the previous quarter on the back of Ramadan (June-July 2015), whereas, it increased even further (9 percent) during the reporting quarter. However, the price of oil (palm oil) increased only a little (about 2 percent) during the period as compared to the price in the previous quarter.
Inflation: General inflation, measured by the point to point variation in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), showed a fluctuating trend for the reporting quarter. It went 19 basis points down from 6.36 percent in July to 6.17 percent in August, mainly because of a fall in consumer demand after Eid-ul-Fitr. It again raised by 7 basis points to 6.24 percent in September 2015 on the back of a price hike in non-food items before Eid-ulAdha as stated by the Ministry of Planning. Non-food inflation showed a similar pattern for apparently alike reasons. Food inflation in September had a sharp decline by 0.14 percentage points as compared to August (6.06 percent) and reached 5.92 percent due to low rice prices in domestic markets and low edible oil and sugar prices in international markets.
Remittances: Month-on-month remittance inflow (in USD) showed an inconsistent trend during the reporting quarter. It declined by 3 percent in July 2015 from the previous month and again showed a huge fall by 14 percent in August. It, however, grew by 13 percent in September 2015. Nevertheless, average remittance inflow in the reporting quarter is 1 percent less than in the previous quarter and about 2 percent less than the same period a year ago.
Food production, import and stock: The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) has fixed the target for food grain production of 36.42 million MT for the FY 2015/16 of which 35.02 million MT for rice and 1.4 million MT for wheat (FPMU, FSR 102), up by almost 1 percent from the previous FY’s actual production. The opening public stock of food grain for the reporting quarter as of July 2015 was 1.15 million MT; whereas, the ending stock was about 1.67 million MT as of September 2015. For the FY 2015/16, the Ministry of Food has set a target of foodgrain import at 4 million MT of which 0.6 million MT is rice. During the reporting quarter, total rice import was 63,000 MT, entirely by the private sector. Again, total wheat import was 0.75 million MT, of which 22 percent was imported by the public sector. (FPMU, FSR 102).
Public food procurement and distribution: The foodgrain procurement target for the current FY has been set at 1.7 million MT, 1.5 million MT of rice and 0.2 million MT of wheat. Boro procurement started from 1st April and continued up to 7th October 2015, with procurement target almost fulfilled. Cumulative distribution as of 30 November of the current FY was 0.5 million MT of which 0.35 million MT was rice and 0.14 million MT was wheat. The distributed amount is 83 percent of the amount distributed during the same period a year ago (FPMU, FSR 102).
Wage rate and purchasing capacity: In July, the average wage for a female labourer was only 226 Taka/day while for a male labourer it was 304 Taka/day – a difference of 79 Taka/day. The scenario got even worse during August-September when there were far less work opportunities for female agricultural labourers than for their male counterparts during the flood, thus the wage gap was also higher. The wage difference between male and female labourers was 92 Taka/day in August and 86 Taka/day in September 2015. Households depending on a female wage labourer are, therefore, highly disadvantaged and remain more impoverished.
Wage data collected by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) till July 2015 and by WFP sub-offices for August and September 2015 show that the average Terms of Trade (ToT) of agricultural day labourers’ wages for rice in the months of the reporting quarter were higher than during the same period in 2014, even though the year-on-year average agricultural daily wages tended to decline a bit.