The food directorate currently has a stock of nearly 16 lakh tonnes of rice and paddy, almost reaching its highest storage capacity. Meanwhile, the government has set November 20 to buy Aman paddy from farmer.
This means the directorate needs to make space for the Aman harvest by clearing the current stock.
As the food directorate has failed to convince the finance ministry to hold an open market sale of rice at Tk22 per kilogram, the pressure is mounting on the directorate to make room for the Aman harvest as the purchase date approaches.
The directorate is now focusing on expanding food assistance programmes to clear the stock. Director General of food Dr Mosammat Nazmanara Khanum said that storing the Aman harvest will hopefully not be a problem as more than 1.5 lakh tonnes of rice is being distributed per month.
Chowkidars and Dafadars (village police) have been brought under the food safety programme, and fishermen in the coastal belt will be included in food schemes.
The open truck sale of rice has been suspended because the price of the staple food is normal (Tk30 per kilogramme) at present. The food directorate, via the food ministry, made a proposal to the finance ministry to hold an Open Market Sale (OMS) of rice at the reduced price of Tk22 per kilogram.
However, the finance ministry dismissed the proposal saying that reducing the price of rice may hit Aman farmers hard. Instead, the ministry suggested expanding food assistance programmes.
The government has 12.67 lakh tonnes of rice and 3.64 lakh tonnes of paddy in stock. It will buy 10 lakh tonnes of paddy and rice from farmers in the next Aman season.
As much as 6 lakh tonnes of paddy, 3 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice and 50,000 tonnes of sunned rice will be purchased at Tk26, Tk36 and Tk35 per kilogram respectively. Paddy will be purchased from November 20, and rice from December 1. The purchase will continue till February 28 next year.
The government will buy more paddy than rice this year, so that farmers do not incur a loss as they did in the last Boro season.
The target of Aman yield has been fixed 1.53 lakh tonnes for this season.