Save farmers

ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman

16 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Paddy farmers are filled with frustration over very low prices of the crop at markets across the country this season.

They said the production cost for a mound of Boro paddy is much higher than its current prices at local markets.

A mound of paddy (40 kg) now sells at Tk 500-600 in the current harvest season. But its production cost is Tk 960.

However, retail price of rice hasn’t come down despite the lower price of paddy. Rice sells at Tk 40-45 per kilogram.

Aghast at the low prices, many farmers are not keen to harvest the crop as labour cost has increased much this season. Labour cost is Tk 600-850 a day.

A farmer of Kalihati in Tangail set fire to his paddy field in a protest against the very low price of the crop.

Many experts said farmers will lose interest in paddy farming if they don’t get fair prices of their crop.

The government should procure more quantity of paddy directly from farmers so that they can get fair prices of their crops, farm economist ASM Ghulam Hafeez said.

The country will face a shortage of rice if this situation continues for three of four more years, he also said.

“Farmers don’t get any return for their outstanding jobs due to the government’s negligence,” he said, adding that it (govt) could introduce short-term loan for the poor farmers.

“If the poor farmers can get loan facilities, they can sell their paddy three months after the harvest season.”

The government has fixed to procure 10 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice, 1.5 lakh tonnes of Atap rice and 1.50 lakh tonnes of Boro paddy.

The government will buy boro rice for Tk 36 per kg and Atap rice for Tk 35, Boro paddy for Tk 26 and wheat for Tk 28,” Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder has said recently. The government had fixed to start procurement from April 25, but it cannot start in full swing.

Directorate General of Food Arifur Rahman Apu told the daily sun that the government fixed to procure 1.5 lakh metric  tonnes of paddy directly from farmers but it is very tiny amount against the total production of paddy.

He said they will buy the paddy through a local committee accompanied by UNO, food officials from farmers listed by Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).

The DG said such a small quantity of paddy procurement from farmers will not give them respite, but will create impact on market.  

The paddy procurement is yet to start as the local committee yet to fix farmers, he said, adding that soon after the start of paddy procurement the price will increase.

Last year the government can procure only 30,000 metric tonnes of paddy from farmers against the target of 1.5 lakh metric tonnes due to higher moisture in paddy, he said.

The government is planning to set up more paddy silos and paddy drying machines so that they can procure more quantity of paddy from farmers, officials said.

The DAE estimated a target to produce 196.23 lakh metric tonnes of Boro rice from 48.42 lakh hectares of land, but acreage has increased to 49.34 lakh hectares this season — 2 per cent more than the target.

The estimation of production is 4.5 tonnes per hectare if weather remain favourable. The country may witness around 199 lakh metric tonnes of boro rice in FY 19.

In 2015, paddy price was Tk 450-480 per mound in boro season, in 2013, paddy price stood at Tk 650-680 per mound.

The price was Tk 570-610 per maund in 2012, Tk 540-560 per mound in 2011, Tk 520-550 per maund in 2010 and 2009, Tk 500 per maund in 2008 and Tk 450 per maund in the harvesting season in 2007.