Lower Boro procurement despite its surplus production has forced the government to import rice from abroad to keep the local rice market stable.
Around a month has passed since programmes to procure Boro paddy and rice began, but the government has been able to buy a very insignificant quantity against its target this year.The lower procurement raised concerns among the Ministry of Food to provide food to the poor and stable local rice market amid the Covid-19 crisis.
The Food Planning and Monitoring Committee (FPMC) had set a target of procuring a total of 1.15 million tonnes of rice (boiled and non-boiled) and 0.65 million tonnes of paddy during the ongoing Boro season.
Some 1.0 million tonnes of boiled rice will be procured at Tk 40 per kg, 0.15 million tonnes of non-boiled (atap) rice at Tk 39 per kg, and 0.65 million tonnes of paddy at Tk 27 per kg.
The Directorate General of Food has procured only 2,55,988 tonnes of Boro paddy, 5,70,287 tonnes of boiled rice and 46,509 tonnes of atap rice till June 30, according to the Ministry of Food.
The paddy and rice procurement drive began on April 28 and May 7 respectively while it will end on August 31.
Due to lower procurement, Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder has directed the Directorate General of Food to prepare a list of rice millers in different parts of the country for failing to supply rice according to the contract with the government.He also said rice will be imported from abroad along with domestic procurement to stable the local market.
“Non-basmati boiled rice will be imported soon under private management by imposing 25 percent duty. Marginal farmers have sold paddy earlier. Mill owners said many non-farmers are stockpiling paddy in the hope of making extra profit. If anyone has illegal stocks, they must be brought under the law,” he said.
In the face of sluggish procurement of rice, the minister also directed its field officers to strengthen the purchase efforts to maintain a sound food stock at public warehouses.
Farm economist Professor ASM Golam Hafeez said the government should procure domestic foodgrains directly from farmers instead of rice millers and such step will help farmers get fair prices instead of giving the rice mill owners any scope to make quick bucks.
The government’s foodgrain stock was 14.51 lakh tonnes -- 11.49 lakh tonnes of rice and 3.02 lakh tonnes of wheat -- till June 30, according to the ministry.