Farmers must win

4 September, 2019 12:00 AM printer

It is indeed a matter of concern to know that the high cost of production of Aman continues to discourage farmers from this second-largest crop cultivation of our country. The news has come at a time when we have become almost self-sufficient in food. In reality, if the cultivation of Aman, which contributes about 38 per cent of the country's total production of the staple crop, is hampered it will leave a long-lasting detrimental impact on the availability of food in times of crisis like flood or drought.

As per the news report, mainly the four-week floods between July and August this year is pushing up the prices of agricultural inputs, including seedling, fertiliser, pesticide and labour cost, especially in 28 flood-hit districts. Seedbeds in those districts were damaged and now the farmers in those areas are facing difficulties to raise the usual amount of crops. The scarcity of seedlings has surged the cost abnormally. Seedlings needed to cultivate a bigha of land are selling between Tk 1,200 and Tk 1,500 which was between Tk 250 and Tk 300 earlier. Similarly, other inputs also had an unexpected surge in prices which in turn will be added to the production cost of paddy.

Farmers mostly sell their paddy soon after the harvest and their livelihood depends on the sale proceeds. But, last year many protested the lower price of paddy which, as they alleged, was not sufficient to recover even the production cost. In certain instances, they set fire on paddy fields out of anguish which should not happen in this agrarian country. The high input cost of Aman inputs this year is likely to push the production cost higher than in the previous year and is likely to make the situation more volatile. If this trend continues farmers will lose interest in cultivating the staple crop and thereby invite a great danger in the agriculture sector as well as the economy. 

It is important to take necessary steps to avoid any unwanted situation. Timely intervention of the government to keep the cost of inputs within the tolerable range is the demand of the hour. Steps must be taken to ensure that farmers win when they sell their harvest; otherwise the country’s food production will be in danger.