During the world food price crisis of 2007–08, rice importing countries suffered through a sharp increase in international rice prices and disruptions in supply as several rice exporters restricted trade to mitigate their domestic price increases. Perhaps no country was more affected by these disruptions than Bangladesh. Our analysis shows that prior to the 2007 crisis, when Bangladesh imported an average of nearly 1 million tons of rice per year from India, domestic wholesale prices of rice in Bangladesh were co-integrated with import parity prices of subsidized Below Poverty Line (BPL) rice. When in mid-2007, India sharply curtailed exports, rice prices surged in Bangladesh.Model simulations show that a relatively small increase in private consumer stocks equivalent to about 2weeks of normal consumption could account for the large surge in domestic prices in Bangladesh and that an additional 300,000 tons (in addition to approximately 700,000 tons of net rice distribution that actually occurred) would have been sufficient to stabilize prices in the November 2007–April 2008 period. The Bangladesh analysis thus shows that in spite of the uncertainty in international markets, careful planning, timely interventions and openness to trade can substantially reduce requirements for public stockholding.
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