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Bangladesh will continue its ban on rice exports, possibly into next year, in order to hold down local prices of the staple food, the government said on Saturday.

“The decision on rice export for both aromatic and non aromatic may continue after 2009 to keep the rising price within the capacity of common people,” said Pius Costa, government director general of food.

“The government has issued the order to reimpose the ban last week prohibiting export of both aromatic and non-aromatic rice till the year-end of 2009,” he told Reuters.

Since May last year the government has imposed a ban on exporting rice which ended last month.

“We welcomed government’s decision as we do not know about the output of Aman rice,” said K. A. Mannan, the managing director of Mabco Food Limited, a leading importer and exporter of wheat and rice.

Aman is one of the main rice varieties in Bangladesh. Bangladesh produces around 30 million tonnes of rice, nearly sufficient to feed its more than 150 million people.

“Moreover Indian traders are negotiating with us for importing rice from our country,” Mannan told Reuters, suggesting a ban on all kinds of rice exports should continue for another year.

Other hand

The Bangladesh food and disaster management ministry has re-floated a tender to import 60,000 tonnes of wheat by April, a senior official said on Saturday.

The tender was floated after the authorities had cancelled the results of tenders issued in September and October to import a similar quantity of wheat.

The tender seeking the crop of the current year from any origin will close on Jan. 3 with validity up to Jan. 24. The shipment should be within 60 days of signing of the deal.

The food ministry has issued several tenders to buy wheat since September. The last was floated last month to purchase a similar quantity of wheat.

For the re-floated tender, bidders may offer a minimum quantity of 30,000 tonnes and 60 percent of the offer should be delivered at the country’s main Chittagong port and the rest to Mongla port on a cost, insurance and freight (CIF) basis.

Out of the tenders issued since September to buy more than 500,000 tonnes wheat, authorities so far have purchased only 100,000 tonnes wheat of Ukraine origin from an European trader.

Bangladesh plans to import 750,000 wheat in the year ending June 2010 to rebuild its stocks, officials said.

Bangladesh, which consumes rice as a staple food, produces about one million tonnes of wheat annually. It also produces around 30 million tonnes of rice, nearly sufficient to feed its almost 150 million people

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