Sacks of wheat bought from farmers by influential traders are kept at Tebunia Haat in Pabna district before supply to the government godowns. The official rate for procuring wheat this season eludes the farmers as traders and middlemen virtually prevent the growers from selling the crop directly to the godowns. PHOTO: STAR
Bumper yield of wheat in the district fails to make the farmers happy as the prices are too low to bring any profit.
The district produced 1,12,920 tonnes of wheat on 37,023 hectares of land this season, said district officials of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
But the prices in wheat markets of the district have remained low from the very outset of the harvesting season, said growers.
Now high quality wheat is selling at Tk 830-850 per maund while it was Tk 900 to 940 just a week ago, said the retailers.
The prices show a downward trend but farmers have to sell their produce for low prices to repay the loan they took with a high interest rate for the cultivation.
“The selling prices of wheat are barely enough to recover our production cost,” said Md Abul Bashar, a farmer of Matiabari village in Sadar upazila.
Meanwhile, the government's wheat procurement programme that started on April 1 to support the farmers has virtually failed to serve the purpose as the growers have to sell the produce for much lower than the government rate of Tk 1,080 per maund.
“I have cultivated wheat on two bighas of land. I wanted to sell the crop at government godowns but there is no scope to supply it directly there as influential people are controlling the warehouses. Finally I have sold it the local market for low price,” said Md Siraj Pramanik of Hemayetpur village.
During a recent visit to different markets in the area, this correspondent found the traders and middlemen purchasing wheat from the farmers and packaging for supplying to government godowns.
“After collecting wheat from the local market, we sell it to the traders and influential leaders for supplying to government godowns,” said Md Mukul Hossain, a middleman at Tebunia market.
The farmers cannot sell the crop directly to the government godowns as influential people control the procurement drive.
During visit to different government godowns, this correspondent saw men of influential traders unloading wheat from the trucks.
Seeing six wheat-laden trucks arriving at the 'Local Supply Depot' in Sadar upazila, this correspondent wanted to know if there was any farmer among the suppliers but failed to get anyone of the category.
Md Main Uddin, district controller of food, claimed there is no scope violation of rules in the procurement programme as they are purchasing wheat from the listed farmers who possessed 'Agriculture Assistance Card'.