Low price of Boro paddy frustrates farmers
Most farmers across the country are frustrated over the low price of Boro paddy as the paddy is now being sold at only Tk 450 to Tk 500 per 40 kg in the local market. Due to bumper production of Boro paddy and huge surplus from Aman production, the price of Boro paddy is not increasing.
In this situation, the farmers of the country sought intervention of the government to get fair price of their Boro paddy. However, the government is unable to do anything fearing increasing the rice price in the market.
As a result, the government is planning to export the surplus rice considering it as the remedy to overcome this situation and it would help the farmers cut their production cost loss. The farmer can also get some profit.
When contacted, Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque on Tuesday told this correspondent at his Secretariat office that the government is sincerely considering export of rice. The issue was also discussed with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to ensure fair prices of Boro.
"The Prime Minister is considering the issue to ensure profit of the farmers. I think it would not hamper the government to ensure supply of adequate food grains in the market. If necessary, we have also option to import rice in future. The decision will be materialized after harvesting of 70 per cent of the paddy," he added.
The farmers of different places across the country have expressed anger over the low prices of the paddy, even some farmers protested by setting their paddy fields on fire too.
"The situation is very critical. Farmers are counting massive losses as they are not getting fair prices in local markets even at the beginning of the harvesting of Boro paddy. The high ups of the government are thinking how to protect the farmer's interest," Razzaque said.
"Once we export the rice, the farmers will get fair price of their products," the Minister said, adding that the prices of goods depend on demands and supply. At present, supply is huge against demand. Most of the millers could not sell their Aman stocks of last season.
He said, "The new rice is now being sold at Tk 30 or Tk 31 per kg, while 40 kg of paddy is being sold at Tk 450 to Tk 500 in the local markets. But, the old and fine rice is being sold at a higher price."
At least 40 per cent of Boro have already been harvested, Razzaque said and added, "Syndication, middlemen and other beneficiaries will exist. So, we have to think more deeply on how to ensure farmer's proper interest."
At least 13 lakh tonnes of Aman paddy was produced additionally in last season against production target of 1.40 crore tonnes, the Minister said, further adding that only procurement of 12.50 lakh tonnes of rice won't help or protect the farmer's interest to ensure fair price.
"I have sold around 2,040 kg of paddy at Tk 450 per 40 kg last Friday. I have to spent Tk 15,000 to harvest my paddy on five bigha of land," Abdur Rahim, a farmer of Gobindapur village under Dhonbari upazila in Tangail district told this correspondent at the Minister's office.
Rahim further added that he had to spend a total of Tk 36,000 excluding Tk 15,000 to grow his rice on five bigha of land. "I have to think whether I will grow rice in future or not as we are not getting fair price as per production cost," he said in reply to a question.
Bajlar Rahman, a farmer of Gaibandha's Sundarganj, told this correspondent that they are frustrated over the low price of the Boro crops. They have produced around 4000 kg of Boro paddy this year. But, they could only sell the paddy at the highest at Tk 500 per 40 kg.
While visited different places of Kurigram and Gaibandha districts including the char (islands) areas recently, this correspondent observed a bumper production of Boro paddy. Most of the farmers were waiting to harvest their paddy within a week or two.
Kurigram Ulipur's Hasaner Char's farmer Sakhawat said they maintain their family expenditures selling the Boro paddy in the market after meeting their household demand of rice. This year, they will have to face huge trouble to maintain other expenses due to low price of Boro paddy.
According to the Agriculture Ministry estimate, the production costs of Boro paddy and rice were Tk 23.50 and Tk 34 a kg respectively this year. But, farmers are selling Boro paddy for Tk 12.50 to Tk 15.00 per kg (Tk 500 to Tk 600 per 40kg) in the local market.
Many farmers are not interested in harvesting their paddy from the fields as they are afraid to pay workers. They are failing to give workers daily payments even after selling 40 kg of paddy.
Meanwhile, the government has taken steps to ensure proper prices of Boro paddy so that farmers do not have to count losses.