Thursday, 23 March, 2023

Farmers ignored in Aman procurement drive

Only 2,389 tonnes of paddy procured from growers so far against the target of 3 lakh tonnes

  • ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman
  • 29 January, 2023 12:00 AM
  • Print news

Food Department appeared to not prioritise farmers in its current drive to procure Aman paddy.

Even if 72 days elapsed in the drive, the Food Department procured only 2,389 tonnes of paddy from the Aman growers against its promise of purchasing 3 lakh tonnes.

On the other hand, the Department procured 2,72,993 tonnes of rice from the millers against its promise of 5 lakh tonnes.

The government's rice procurement process started on November 17 and will continue till February 28 across the country.

The Food Department's procurement ratio showed that it didn't prioritise procuring paddy from the farmers directly, but was rather interested to buy from the millers.

Agricultural economist Dr. Jahangir Alam Khan told Daily Sun that the government was following a flawed policy in the procurement of Aman paddy.

“The government is not focusing on the farmers in its drive to purchase paddy. It’s rather importing rice from foreign countries and procuring rice from millers,” he said, adding that the government should introduce a variable price following the market to procure paddy from farmers.

“The production cost of Aman paddy is Tk 27.5 per kg while the government set Tk 28 for paddy procurement which is not attractive,” Dr. Khan said.

"Faria" (middlemen) and the “aratdar” (wholesaler) are purchasing paddy at a much higher price from the farmers' fields. “For this reason, they (the farmers) are not interested in bringing their produce to the government's centres,” he said.

The government should buy paddy directly from farmers visiting their fields instead of importing rice, said the economist.

With less than a month left, the government is highly unlikely that it will be able to meet the target, and as a result, farmers will not get the price support that the government had planned to provide them.           

 The Food Department has already reached its target by purchasing more rice from the millers.

Raihanul Kabir Director (Procurement Division) at the Directorate General of Food told the Daily Sun that the government gives a competitive farmers-friendly price.

Farmers are getting a fair price at the local market due to the government's fixed price for what they are selling paddy at the open market at a higher price, he said.

The food official also said that they have procured a good amount of rice from millers and the rest of the target will be fulfilled within the tenure.

In the local market, farmers sell their paddy at Tk 30-33 per kg which is better than the previous season.

“We are getting higher prices in the local market than the procurement price set by the government,” said Aminul Haque, a farmer from Kumarkhali in Kushtia.

Selling paddy to the government has some difficulties like drying paddy at a temperature prescribed by the government, cleaning dust and sand and bringing it to the warehouses, he said adding that it takes two to three more days to get money.

The government has set a target to procure 3 lakh tonnes of Aman paddy and 5 lakh tonnes of boiled rice in the current season.

On November 1, an inter-ministerial meeting of the Food Planning and Monitoring Committee (FPMC) fixed the procurement price for Aman paddy at Tk 28 per kg and boiled rice at Tk 42 per kg.

During the last Boro collection season, the government procured 2.62 lakh tonnes of paddy against a target of 6.50 lakh tonnes.