Govt’s delay in paddy purchase may cause loss for farmers
Farmers from different areas in the country said the more paddy is harvested the lower goes the price
The Directorate General of Food is yet to start buying paddy even though 90 percent of the crop in the haor areas has already been harvested.
Food directorate sources said the directorate has started buying paddy in some areas, though not in full swing.
As the directorate has not started buying paddy, farmers have to sell paddy at low prices – between Tk600 and Tk750 per maund. This is sharply at variance with the government's declaration of buying eight lakh tonnes of paddy at Tk1,040 per maund.
Farmers from different areas in the country said the more paddy is harvested the lower goes the price.
During the last Boro season, farmers had to sell paddy at Tk450-Tk600 per maund.
Farmers said they were selling their paddy to pay labourers and meet irrigation and other costs. If they wait for the government to buy their paddy they will be in trouble.
As a result, the wholesalers will buy paddy, and when the government buys from them, they will be benefitted.
Farmer Abdul Aziz, from Moulvibazar's Hakaluki haor area, told The Business Standard, "The government has not yet started buying paddy here. I have sold paddy at Tk650 per maund, after drying it in the sun once, which could have been sold at Tk750 per maund after being dried properly."
Farmer Aminul Mia, from Trishal upazila, said a week ago paddy sold at Tk650, but then the price dropped to Tk600.
"I have sold dried paddy at Tk700 per maund, which was Tk750-770 a few days ago," he said.
In the haor areas of Sylhet, Sunamganj, Habiganj, Netrokona, Kishoreganj and Brahmanbaria districts, Boro was cultivated in 9.36 lakh hectares of land this year, of which 65 percent has been harvested.
However, in the haor areas 90 percent and in other areas 25 percent of the crop has been harvested.
Sarower Mahmud, Director General of the Directorate General of Food, acknowledged that the government has not yet been able to start buying paddy.
As he explained it, "Due to bad weather, farmers could not dry the paddy properly. Considering the situation, the purchase will take time to begin," he added.
According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, in Boro cultivation, 47 percent of cultivation is done by small farmers, 33 percent of farmers take lease of land, and 26 percent are sharecroppers.
They sell paddy to wholesalers and middlemen who later sell the paddy to the government.
Economists said if the government had started buying paddy there would have been two benefits: the farmers from whom the government buys would be benefited and prices would be stable in the market.
If the government starts buying after all the paddy is harvested across the country, prices will fall. Farmers will be de-motivated if they do not get a proper price even after a bumper yield.
"The government should buy the paddy from the very beginning of the harvest because farmers have to sell paddy quickly, which keeps prices competitive in the market. If the government delays the purchase process, middlemen will be benefited," said Dr Jahangir Alom, an agriculture economist.
"The government has to buy paddy from farmers instead of buying rice from the mill owners, for the benefit of farmers," he added.
According to the agricultural extension department, there is a bumper yield of Boro this year. Paddy was cultivated on 47,54,448 hectares of land in 2019-20, the production target being 2,04,36,000 tonnes of paddy. In 2018-19, Boro production was 2,03,89,000 tonnes.
Golam Rahman, Secretary of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh, told The Business Standard, "If the government wants to control the price, it has to start buying from now. Otherwise, farmers will not have any paddy left to sell. The government should consider this issue."