Rice producers in Pabna are apprehensive over the political stalemate that has affected distribution and left about 15,000 workers sitting idle.
Most rice mills in the district remain closed as there is virtually no paddy collection or sales for a lack of transportation.
The government's aman procurement drives began on December 1, with targets to procure 10,866 tonnes by February 28, said Md Moyen Uddin, district controller of food.
The drive may miss targets due to the lingering political turmoil, he added.
“Since December 1, we have procured just 1,234 tonnes of rice. At this rate, we are not sure if we can meet the target.”
A mere 491 rice mills made agreements with the government to supply 7,458 tonnes of rice; other millers in the district are reluctant to make a promise as production costs have increased due to the continuous blockades, Main Uddin said.
According to officials at the district food office, 849 rice mills used to produce 52,000 tonnes of rice in every 15-day cycle, but production stopped last month for the political impasse.
“Rice traders could not receive paddy from the northern and southern districts due to the blockades for a month. Due to a lack of paddy, most rice mills remained shut that hampered production,” said Md Idris Ali Bishwas, president of the district rice mill owners association.
A few rice mills in Ishwardi upazila continued production with low amounts of paddy that increased production costs.
“Previously, I used to bring 200 to 250 bags of paddy a day to produce approximate 100 bags of rice. But in the last two weeks, I had to keep my mill shut for a lack of paddy,” said Md Sadek Ali Bishwas, a rice mill owner.
Transporters are now charging about Tk 25,000 for a truck carrying rice to Dhaka, up from Tk 12,000-14,000, which is also increasing prices, he added.