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Heat wave in Bangladesh damages rice crops, imports may rise

Climatic conditions dent Bangladesh's rice production

Bangladesh, which was in the grip of a severe heat wave for two days in April, could witness a drop in rice production.

The heat stress – caused by a mix of high temperatures, low rainfall and low humidity – ruined thousands of hectares of crops in Bangladesh’s main rice-growing region this spring, with climate experts warning the phenomenon could threaten food supplies, a Reuters report said.

Rice is the staple food in Bangladesh.

According to the Dhaka based news organisation Prothom Alo, more than 36 districts were affected when temperatures reached as high as 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit) for two consecutive days in early April, according to the government’s Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI).

Also read: Bangladesh faces hunger risk as rising ‘heat shocks’ ruin rice crops

The newspaper said that more than 68,000 hectares of rice were either partially or completely destroyed over the two days, affecting more than 300,000 farmers and resulting in losses of an estimated 3. $39 million.

Bangladesh already faces increasingly extreme weather – including droughts, floods and storms – but last month saw the most destructive bout of heat shock since the BRRI started keeping records in 2012.

Also read:India ready to fight hunger in Bangladesh as public foodgrain stocks fall

Prices have also remained high. A drop in production and high prices have also led to increased imports of the grain.

A separate Reuters report in January said that Bangladesh’s rice import could surge.

The report said that Bangladesh’s rice imports may surge to 2 million tonnes in the financial year 2020-21 “as local prices jumped to a record high on limited supplies.”

Meanwhile India has already supplied 3.5 lakh tonnes of rice to its south Asian neighbour in the last few months. Rice exporters said that they are ready to supply more grain to Dhaka in case there is a requirement.

Also read:India, Bangladesh look at forging closer ties on farm front

Dhaka has also slashed import duty on rice to 25 per cent from a high 62.5 per cent to facilitate imports of the grain in the country.