Improve market management to save farmers
COUNTRY'S farmers are not getting fair prices of their products in markets due to a change of various hands in the supply chain, poor transportation and inadequate storage capacities. But those agricultural products of late are being sold at high prices on the plea that rains and other calamities have damaged harvests. Thus, a lion's share of the selling money is going to the merchants, retailers and middlemen.
As reported in a national daily on Tuesday, agricultural experts and a study conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have noted that producers get less than 40 per cent of prices at the consumer level while merchants get 43 per cent and the remaining 17 per cent is spent on transportation and other expenses. For easy access by farmers and small traders, the ADB recommends relocating wholesale markets outside Dhaka, ensuring price information, improving collection and marketing in production areas with agro-logistics
On the other hand, experts said though consumers pay extra for agricultural products, farmers remain deprived. There should be initiatives to raise their income by improving market management, they explained. In this context, they also said the agro producers in developed countries are getting about 80 per cent of the final price and it should be at least 70 per cent in Bangladesh. But failure of proper market monitoring is causing losses for producers and is also forcing consumers to pay extra money. Neglecting market management is allegedly the main reason why farmers remain deprived. So, government intervention in the market by providing policy and infrastructure support is urgently needed. Side by side, a smooth and modern transport system could reduce the cost of transportation.
Since liberation, increasing agricultural production has been prioritised. But all projects and initiatives have remained limited to that objective. The number of middlemen needs to be restricted to ensure coordination of prices at the farmer and consumer levels. Besides, online markets can also play a key role for bringing prices under control.
Often merchants, wholesalers and retailers are found to blame one another for the differences in prices of agricultural goods. They sometimes blame natural disasters, such as floods, droughts and rains. It is likely that farmers may lose interest in growing paddy and vegetables in near future. That will have serious ramifications for food security in the country, and it is time the government looks into farmers' interest seriously.