Thursday, January 21, 2021 | ePaper

Lack of proper policies leads farmers to fail meet national demand

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AN efficient government policy to collect, reserve and import rice is crucial to maintaining a balanced price in the market. A virtual dialogue emphasised on prioritising marginalised farmers in the policy and increasing accuracy in estimates of food grain production. This week, the retail price of coarse rice is around 46 per cent higher compared to the corresponding price of last year, while the price of fine and medium rice also rose between seven and 20 per cent. Amid the increasing poverty and income loss due to the pandemic, the soaring price of the main staple forces many people to be underfed and starved.
In the existing agricultural supply chain, marginal farmers are not benefiting from the price hike as they sell right after harvest. Farmers are compelled to sell their produce immediately after harvest to repay their debts. Despite operating agricultural banks, farmers are still dependent on high rate interest from local lenders. The agricultural loans should be available for the marginal farmers, but many commercial banks are reluctant to the agro loan.
 Recently, coarse rice's demand is increasing as most medium-priced rice varieties in the market are manufactured from coarse rice. To meet the demand, we should focus on more producing varieties. The government should boost up reserves, by setting up more warehouse in all major paddy-harvesting unions. The hoarders are responsible for the price hike of rice and the consumers are suffering. So, the government must burst the intermediary groups and connect the buyers and farmers directly. As agriculture now contributes only 15 per cent to the GDP, it must be mechanised for greater production and rational use of labour in other sectors. Many farmers are moving away from paddy to cultivating exotic crops.
The government and the private sector should support agriculture as food security is a must for development. The impact of environmental change in agricultural production is significant, and we must have surplus production for maintaining food for everyone and fulfilling the SDG pledges.

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