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26th-May-2019

Govt pledges to procure paddy directly from farmers

By

Kazi Zahidul Hasan  :
The Ministry of Food has strengthened its paddy procurement drive directly from farmers to help them relieving from price havoc.
The current market price of Boro paddy is Tk 450 to Tk 500 a maund (37kg). But production cost of per maund rice is about Tk 906.50, according to the Ministry of Food and Rice Mill Owners Association.  
 "We have asked the District Food Controllers to intensify paddy procurement directly from farmers so that they can get fair price," Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder told The New Nation yesterday.
Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNOs) and food officials are in field to supervise paddy procurement.
Earlier, the government decided to procure 1.5 lakh tons of Boro paddy and 11 lakh tons of rice from local market.
It has fixed the price of per kg paddy at Tk 26 a kg (Tk 1,040 per maund) and Tk 36 for a kg of parboiled and Tk 35 for aromatic rice.
The procurement by Food Department would continue until the end of August.
"Paddy growers deserve better treatment and it is the government's liability to help farmers sell paddy at proper prices," said Sadhan Chandra Majumder.  
The Food Minister said that the government is looking for an effective mechanism so that the farmers   can no longer depend on middlemen and millers to sell their output.
When asked, Sadhan Chandra Majumder said that the government would increase storage capacity of its silos to create buffer stock of food grains (paddy, rice and wheat).
Silos under the Food Department have the storage capacity at best 21 lakh tons of food grains.
 "The government may buy an additional quantity of paddy and rice from the next season to deal with surplus production," said Sadhan Chandra Majumder.
 He cited that the government has already imposed high duty on rice import to encourage and support local production. The move will help farmers to get a proper price of their produce.
Despite the intensified procurement drive, many farmers are facing difficulty to sell their produce at designated centers due to lack of knowledge over maintaining moisture in paddy.  The Food Department has asked farmers to maintain 14 per cent moisture in their paddy for selling it to the department. But most of the farmers do not know how to maintain the exact level of moisture leading them in confusion.
In many cases, Food officials refused to buy paddy from farmers on the ground of non-maintenance of proper moisture level, according to our local correspondents.
 "Market manipulation by a powerful millers' syndicate led the paddy prices down. Import of rice in bulk also worsened the situation. In this context, the government should put an all-out effort to paddy directly from farmers," Dr Moinul Islam, an Economics Professor at the University of Chittagong told The New Nation.
 "The government should create a buffer stock of rice buying it directly from the farmers. The stock can be sold at subsidized rate through OMS operation among marginal people. Such a measure can help protect farmers' interest as well."  Dr Moinul Islam also suggested for enhancing agro-subsidy in the upcoming budget to support the farmers.
Bangladesh has become self-sufficient in food production taking advantage of good harvest in agro-crops, including paddy.
"But the growers are being deprived of fair price due to lack of an effective marketing and supply chain management. The government should look into the matter seriously to keep the agro sector afloat," said Dr Moinul Islam.