Agriculture Minister Dr Muhammad Abdur Razzaque has claimed that the prices set by the government for procuring paddy and rice are reasonable and consistent with the market.
The minister, from the office room at the Secretariat, virtually launched the programme of purchasing paddy directly from the farmers in Khulna through the "Krishoker App (farmers' app)" on Wednesday.
Speaking as the chief guest at the event, Abdur Razzaque said, "The government's rice procurement programme is very important. Last year, it was not possible to procure paddy as per the target due to various reasons. However, considering the overall situation of last year, a very reasonable price has been fixed for paddy and rice this year, which is very consistent with the market. As a result, it will be possible to procure paddy and rice this year as per the target."
Last year the farmers were less interested in selling paddy to the government as the price of paddy in the general market was higher than the price fixed by the government.
Similarly, the rice mill owners did not sell rice to the government as the production cost of rice was very high. They repeatedly recommended raising the price of rice, but the government did not raise the price.
As a result, the government's programme to procure rice and paddy was unsuccessful and it is still facing the impact of it. The government's food grain stocks are currently very low and it could not meet the shortage by imports.
According to the Ministry of Food, the government currently has 5.14 lakh tonne grains – 2.97 lakh tonne rice and 2.17 lakh tonne wheat – in stock.
Last year, the government had announced to buy paddy at Tk26 per kg, atap rice (sun-dried rice) at Tk35 per kg and boiled rice at Tk36 per kg during the Boro season. In the current Boro season, the government has started procuring paddy at Tk27 per kg, atap rice at Tk39 and boiled rice at Tk40 per kg.
Paddy procurement started from 28 April and rice procurement will start from 7 May. The collection will end on 31 August.
Mentioning that a revolution will be brought in the agriculture of Khulna, the minister said the government is working to radically change the agriculture in the saline lands of the southern region including Khulna.
"Different varieties of crops and technologies suitable for cultivation in saline lands have already been developed. There were many successful cases of cultivating these crops in the saline lands. Inventing more new varieties and technologies will be continued to bring about an agricultural revolution in the saline lands of the South," said the minister.