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Learning English - Words in the News
04 January, 2008 - Published 15:19 GMT
Shortage of rice in Bangladesh
A rice farmer in Bangladesh

Officials in Bangladesh say the government's stocks of rice are dwindling in the face of a crisis in the domestic market. The crisis was brought about by the destruction caused by cyclone Sidr which hit Bangladesh in November. This report from Sanjay Dasgupta:

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A senior official in the Bangladeshi agriculture ministry, Ayub Mian, says government stocks of rice now stand at six hundred thousand tonnes, which is less than half the normal level. Rice is the staple food for the vast majority of Bangladesh's hundred and forty million people.

Despite its dwindling stocks, the government is selling rice at controlled prices. To some observers, the long queues that have formed in front of shops where rice is being sold at controlled prices look like the signs of a bigger food crisis in the near future - a prospect the country's interim government is trying desperately to avoid. At the moment, it is mainly consumers in urban areas who've been badly hit by the price rise; people in the villages tend to store part of what they produce for times like this.

But how long the situation can hold is now the big question. The widespread devastation caused by cyclone Sidr in November, and by monsoon floods before that, damaged the winter harvest. Bangladesh asked for emergency supplies from neighbouring India and from donor nations. But, so far, the supplies haven't materialised.

Sanjay Dasgupta, BBC

Listen to the words

a supply of something for use or sale

basic, main, regular

dwindling stocks
supplies that are becoming smaller in amount

at controlled prices
here, not allowing the prices of rice to go up too sharply too soon

badly hit
seriously affected (in a negative way)

to store part of what they produce
not to sell everything they produce, to keep some of it for themselves

widespread devastation
destruction or damage that affected many areas

the crops (e.g. rice, wheat etc.) which are cut and collected from the fields

donor nations
countries that give money or goods to another country

the supplies haven't materialised
here, no rice has been delivered

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