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Diesel price hike cripples farmers

  • ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman
  • 9 November, 2021 12:00 AM
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The sharp increase in diesel price will shoot up farm production costs at a time when the Rabi season is gaining momentum across the country.

Farmers warned that the rising input cost will have to be factored into crop production cost, which will intimately increase food prices.

“The latest fuel price hike would push up the food prices further due to the increase in the production and transportation costs of farm products,” said the market experts.

Maize, wheat, mustard, onion, potato, gram, peas, linseed, lentil, cabbage, cauliflower and other vegetables are produced during the Rabi season from mid-October to mid-March.

Cultivation of Boro, the most irrigation-dependent cereal, will start in a few weeks at the end of Aman harvest. Boro farming will be hugely affected by a rise in irrigation cost due to the price hike of diesel.

Farm economist Prof ASM Golam Hafiz said higher fuel costs would generally lower agricultural output, raise the prices of agricultural products and reduce farm income.

“The diesel price hike will increase input costs like irrigation, plough and transportation. A rise in transport cost will affect the supply chain, causing a hike in the prices of all agricultural products,” he said.

“Marginal farmers who cultivate on borrowed land will be affected most. They will not be able to afford the higher input costs of production, causing a fall in production,” said the agri economist.

More than 60 per cent of 11.9 million hectares of cultivable land are being irrigated by diesel-run pumps in the country, according to Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) data.

   The demand for diesel in the country’s agricultural sector was 19, 39,370 tonnes in FY 2020-21, BPC data suggest.

Out of the total fuel oil consumption, a total 73.11 per cent is diesel and 18 per cent of the total diesel consumption is being used in the agricultural sector, according to BPC.

Many farmers alleged that water pump operators have already hiked the irrigation charge by Tk 500-600 per bigha overnight. 

Rabiul Islam, a farmer from Shailkupa in Jhenaidah, said tractor operators in his village have already raised the charge of plough by Tk 150 per bigha.

More than 70 per cent of Boro land out of 4.8 million hectares is being irrigated by diesel-run water pumps as well as more than 90 per cent of such land is being ploughed by diesel-run tractors and power-tillers.