At a time when the country has become self-sufficient in food, high production cost is discouraging many farmers to cultivate Aman this season.
Prices of different agricultural inputs are set to push up the production cost further, especially in 28 flood-hit districts this year, claimed farmers and experts.Seedling, fertiliser, pesticide and labour costs have surged abnormally this year.
Farmers are now hesitating to cultivate Aman paddy, the second-largest rice crop contributing 38 per cent to the country’s total rice production, due to higher input cost, experts have said.
Farmers have been facing a scarcity of seedlings as seedbeds in a vast area were damaged by the four-week floods between July and August this year.
Farm economist professor Golam Hafiz Kennedy told the Daily Sun that farmers are losing interest in paddy farming as they cannot even meet the output cost from the sales of their produce.
He said, “Farmers are growing alternative crops after facing losses in paddy farming. They are now growing wheat, maize, vegetables and other cash crops instead of paddy.”
Prof Hafiz said the input cost of Aman paddy has increased and labour cost also goes up during the harvesting season.To meet the cost, farmers have to sell their produce soon after the harvest. Taking this advantage, the dealers purchase paddy at much lower prices, the economist added.
Alim Hossain, a farmer from Lalmonirhat Sadar, said a shortage of seedlings increased the price of Aman seedlings in their area as flood has damaged many seedbeds this year. “Many farmers are purchasing seedlings from other districts at higher rates,” he said.
A bunch of seedlings of Swarna paddy per decimal is selling at Tk 40-50 now. It cost us Tk 1,200-1,500 per bigha for seeds against Tk 250-300 normally, he said.
“Seed varieties like BR-11 and Swarna now sell at Tk 80-120 a kilogram against the usual rates of Tk 38-60, said Akbor Hossain,” another farmer from Nilphamari.
Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation president Zainal Abedin said farmers will need more fertiliser this year as bad clay entered crop lands during floods.
He said reports suggest that farmers have to spend an additional 8 to 10 kg of urea, TSP, MOP and DAP fertilisers per bigha due to lower fertility of the land.
Local shops are also overcharging Tk 3.0-6.0 a kg for fertiliser against government rates, he alleged.
“Traders were also charging higher prices for plough, seed and pesticide after the floods,” said Zainal Abedin, adding that the overall output cost is likely to go up by at least 30 per cent in the flood-affected areas.
The government has set the rice production target at 153.570 lakh tonnes from 58.790 lakh hectors of land this Aman season.