Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Bangladesh’s rice import skyrocketed by nearly 730 percent in the first five months of the current fiscal year (FY) 2013-14 following lower prices in the global market, officials said.

The rice import in terms of settlement of letters of credit (LCs) rose to US$ 88.45 million during the July-November period of the FY 14 from $10.66 million in the corresponding period of FY 13, while wheat import increased by nearly 81 per cent to $516.88 million from $285.82 million, according to the central bank statistics.

“The import of rice increased gradually in the recent months due mainly to lower prices of the essential commodity in the international market,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) said.

Currently, the import value of rice came down to $350 per tonne from $392 four months back. It was more than $500 a year ago.

The central bankers also said appreciation of the local currency against the US dollar has also encouraged the importers to import more of the essential items to meet the growing demand in the local market.

Bangladesh Taka (BDT) appreciated by more than 2.50 per cent against the US currency in 2013, thanks to higher export growth despite a series of domestic adversities.

The US dollar was quoted at Tk 77.75-Tk 77.77 in the inter-bank foreign exchange (forex) market on December 30, the last working day of the calendar year 2013 against Tk 79.75 on January 1, 2013.

Bangladesh is now importing rice from India, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar and Pakistan.

BBN/SSR/AD-14Jan14-9:45 pm (BST)