Low bean prices frustrate Lakshmipur farmers

Our Correspondent

16 December, 2020 12:00 AM printer

LAKSHMIPUR: Bean growers of the district are worried that they might not be able to recover the production cost due to sudden drop in the prices of the vegetable in the ongoing harvesting season.

Farmers in the country have started harvesting bean that is likely to get a bumper production but there are few returns from it.

At the beginning of the season, each kg of bean was sold at Tk 85 but in the middle of the winter, the price fell to Tk 15.

Bean cultivation has been gaining popularity in the district after a large number of farmers got involved considering good profit with relatively low investment.

In different parts of the district including Ramganj, Raipur, Ramgati and Lakshmipur sadar upazila, farmers cultivated bean in the fields, house yards and the isles of fish enclosures.

The bumper production initially made them happy with prospects of handsome profit but a price fall in the local market wiped the smiles off their faces. Farmers Kabir Patwary of Alipur village in the Ramganj upazila took two bighas of land on lease and bought the total land under cauliflower and bean cultivation.

“I hardly managed to get back my product cost due to other expenses including transportation and wages of day labourers,” he said. Some 600 farmers in the area have been hit hard by the low price, he said.

The situation is forcing some farmers to sell beans on credit.

Jiban Karmakar, another farmer of Lakshmipur Sadar upazila, said he brought 15 kathas of land under bean cultivation and the production is higher than it was in 2018 and 2019.

“I took Tk 50 thousand loan on 6 percent interest. I’m devastated because of the falling price of the bean as in some cases, each kg bean is being sold at as low as Tk 25,” he said.

Now, each kg of bean is selling for around Tk 25 per kg, while it was Tk 45 about three weeks ago. 

During a recent visit to different villages in the district, this correspondent saw frustration on the faces of bean farmers due to sudden drop in prices of their produce. Many farmers expressed their anxiety about meeting the expenditure for cultivating upcoming crops, and some growers are wondering how to repay their loans. 

Usually, small and marginal farmers take loan from NGOs or local money lenders to meet the expenses of cultivating crops. Many of them take fertilisers and pesticides from local shops with a promise to pay the money after harvesting the crops. After harvesting, they repay the loans and use the rest of the money for meeting their daily needs and cultivating crops.   

“I have cultivated bean on 20 decimals of land spending about Tk 40,000. I could not recover my expenditure as I sold the vegetables from the field at Tk 25 per kg. Traders asked me to sell the vegetables from my field for Tk 30 per kg about three weeks ago, but I didn’t agree at that time, hoping for a price hike,” said Faruk Ahmed, of Ishapur village in Ramganj upazila

“I will get around 50 maunds of beans at production cost of around Tk 20 to 22 per kg, but I have to sell it at a rate below the production cost,” he added.   

Mahmudul Hasan of Ramgati upazila said he has cultivated variety of beans on 1.5 acres of land spending about Tk 55,000. “I cannot sell the vegetables for even Tk 20 per kg due to shortage of buyers. I have to incur huge losses as the price will not increase,” he added.

“I took loan from a local NGO to cultivate beans and it will be tough for me to repay it. It will also be very hard to manage the expenses for cultivation the vegetables in the upcoming season due to the loss I incurred,” he said.  

Like Kabir, Faruk and Jiban several farmers also expressed their anxiety about how to repay their loans, or manage expenses for cultivation of the next crop. 

Deputy Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Lakshmipur Belal Hossain said bean was cultivated on 5,742 hectares of land against the target of 10,500 hectares.