Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | ePaper

Fix realistic price of rice: Don't push farmers to the wall

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IN the harvest time, when the price of paddy is in nadir and farmers across the country are counting huge losses, the demands for fixing reasonable price of paddy and rice have been bolstering. Farmers now want the government to buy paddy or rice from them directly instead of rice mill owners' mediation. As the price of rice or paddy is too low, if the government procures directly it would minimize the losses of farmers. We ask the government to fix the rice and paddy price so that farmers can meet their essential needs by producing the essential staple.
In the current system, farmers have no choice but to sell their harvest to local rice mill owners. So, those middlemen become the beneficiaries and the farmers become victims. Agriculture Minister said middlemen are the part of procurement chain while Food Minister said that there was no political influence in rice procurement. If the Ministers are telling the truth; then who are playing vital role in rice procurement now?
Farmers have been saying that their production cost is higher than the market price of rice and paddy. The cost of production of per maund rice is Tk 500 to Tk 550 but the price hovers between Tk 400 and Tk 450, thus farmer incur loss Tk 100 in every maund. The government last month announced it would buy 12.5 lakh tones of boro paddy this season to ensure fair prices for farmers. Of the amount, 10 lakh tones of parboiled rice and 1.5 lakh tones of aromatic rice will be purchased by the Food Department. It will also buy 1.5 lakh tonnes of paddy. The Department said it would pay Tk 36 for a kg of parboiled and Tk 35 for aromatic rice. The Department said it would buy paddy at Tk 26 a kg and the procurement would continue until the end of August.
We know that each year government facilitates fixing procurement price of tobacco from farmers for private tobacco companies. But we never saw that government did it for the rice growers. It's a big question-why? It's not possible for the government to buy all 35 million tons of rice that country's farmers grow a year. But what the government can do is that; it can dictate the market by fixing floor price for rice for private buyers and sellers.

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