Farmers complain of low paddy price

Export is not the only way out

The agricultural sector of Bangladesh has developed much but the fate of the farmers has yet to change. Farmers are not getting fair price for their produce thus losing their interest to cultivate rice. Farmers of different places have aired their frustration at the low paddy prices. 

Reportedly, one maund (40kg) paddy is being sold at Tk 450 to Tk 500 in different markets across the country against the average production cost of Tk 650-700. Thus farmers are counting massive losses as they are not getting fair prices in the local markets. However, the government feels the export of surplus rice could be a possible remedy to overcome the dire situation. Hence, Bangladesh must find new destinations for rice export to sustain its agricultural sector. In this regard, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, a specialised agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger, can be a target for Bangladesh to export rice through FAO.

Earlier the government had declared to procure rice from the farmers, for many reasons, but the farmers have not yet received any profit. As there is no infrastructure to buy rice directly from the farmers, the lion’s share of the farmers’ profit is being taken by the middlemen. Therefore, besides taking necessary steps for exporting rice, the authorities concerned must build adequate infrastructure to procure rice directly from the farmers.

Reportedly, there are more than 2 crore cardholder farmers in the country and among them 1 crore are small and marginal farmers. Experts assert that most of the farmers in Bangladesh are sharecroppers. They produce rice by taking loan from the money lenders. In the past few years, we experienced that during harvest time, money lenders force the farmers to pay back the loan and thus compel them to sell rice at a lower price. According to internal collection policy of the Directorate of Food, a cardholder farmer will be able to sell minimum 80 kg and maximum 3 tonnes of rice to the government. This initiative was taken to influence farmers to grow rice. But due to lack of infrastructure to buy rice directly from the farmers, government procured rice from millers and wholesalers who became the actual beneficiaries of the government’s increased rate for rice and paddy. Therefore, relevant authorities should immediately build an infrastructure system to procure rice directly from the farmers in order to ensure their estimated profit.