LALMONIRHAT: The Directorate of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) slapped a fine of Tk 25,000 on Abul Khair Tobacco Company (AKTC) on Tuesday while buying tobacco from the farmers at a lower price than that fixed by the government.
ASM Masud Ud Daula, assistant director of DNCRP imposed the fine on AKT at its tobacco purchase center at Kaliganj upazila of Lalmonirhat district. Officials from the district agricultural marketing department and law enforcing agencies were also present there.The government annually fixes the prices of tobacco to ensure fair price to the tobacco farmers. Following the price chart, the government has fixed the minimum price of standard barley-1 tobacco at Tk 95, barley-2 at Tk 91, barley-3 at Tk 88 and tobacco of non-barley grade at Tk 46 per kilogram.
However, in Kaliganj, Abul Khair Tobacco was purchasing tobacco at only Tk 50 – 55 per kilogram whereas the price of those tobacco have fixed at Tk 95 by the government.
A grower anonymously said that they produce tobacco to get a fair price, but the local tobacco companies, including Abul Khair Tobacco, purchase the produces at a low price taking advantage of lack of storage facilities. They are forced to sell their produces without making any profits. This is why they could not make any profit in the previous season as well, he informed.
When everyone was at home, we had to go out for farming risking our lives amid the coronavirus pandemic, said the grower, adding that if they do not get a fair price, they would be in trouble.
The next farming of tobacco largely relies on the price that they will get this season, he added.
When asked, ASM Masud Ud Daula said, “We conduct these drives as part of our regular routine. Abul Khair Tobacco Company did not have any price chart or signboard. They were buying tobacco at a rate of Tk 50 – 55 per kilogram whereas the government has set the price at Tk 95 of that particular grade”We have also lodged a verbal complaint to the district agricultural marketing officer and local administration, informed the DNCRP official.
“There are allegations that the tobacco company forcibly takes more tobacco than the measured ones from the farmers without making any payment for those,” he further added.
Masud Ud Daula also informed that they were stressing on the price billboard, if the tobacco companies are complying with government price plan, if the tobaccos are measured using digital scales and other relevant issues so that the tobacco producers get a fair price.