JS body asks govt to stop rice import

Special Correspondent

21 May, 2019 12:00 AM printer

A parliamentary watchdog on Monday asked the government to stop import of rice at private and public levels for the sake of farmers.

The parliamentary standing committee on food ministry also asked the government to buy paddy directly from farmers.

It also asked the ministry to take measures to buy more paddy than its target.

The committee came up with the recommendations during its meeting at Parliament Secretariat with its chairman Mohammad Nasim in the chair.

Committee members, including food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder, Dhirendra Devnath Shambhu, Ayen Uddin and Ataur Rahman Khan, attended the meeting.

Emerging from the meeting, Nasim told reporters that the country achieved the higher paddy production this year.

“That’s why we have recommended the government for procuring more rice from farmers,” he said.

Although the government has fixed a timeframe between April 25 and August 31 for procuring paddy and rice, the process is yet to start. 

The government will buy paddy for Tk 26 per kilogram while Tk rice for Tk 36 per kg.

As the procuring system is delayed, the middlemen have started buying paddy and rice from farmers at lower rates. As a result, farmers have become frustrated.

Although the government purchases boro paddy for Tk 1040 per mound, farmers are not getting its real prices.

At present, paddy is being sold at Tk 500 to Tk 600 per mound in markets, but a labourer is to pay more for paddy harvest.

Due to low paddy prices, many farmers staged protests by setting fire to paddy on roads in different districts. A farmer also set fire to his paddy field in Tangail.

Nasim said the committee suggested that the government should buy paddy from farmers directly so that the middlemen cannot take any opportunity.

In the meeting, the food minister said the government has planned to set up some 200 paddy silo with the capacity of 5000 tonnes.

“The government is procuring paddy with 14 per cent wet. That’s why many farmers are compelled to sell paddy to millers. If the silos are built, farmers can sell their paddy after drying,” he said.

The minister also said that some 20 teams would remain on duty to monitor whether paddy is being procured from farmers.

The monitor teams will visit different places without prior notice, he said.

The watchdog also asked the government to conduct mobile-court drives against food adulteration round the year.