The government yesterday set a food grain procurement target of 16 lakh tonnes in the current Boro season with a higher price offer for both rice and paddy but kept the purchasing price for wheat the same as last year's.
As against last year's purchase target of 15 lakh tonnes in rice, paddy and wheat during the post-Boro harvesting season, the government this time would buy 16 lakh tonnes of food grain -- seven lakh tonnes of paddy, eight lakh tonnes of rice and one lakh tonnes of wheat.
An inter-ministerial food planning and monitoring meeting held at the food ministry yesterday decided to offer the farmers an enhanced price of Tk 24, Tk 33 and Tk 34 for per kilogramme of paddy, non-parboiled and parboiled rice respectively.
These price offers are Tk 2 higher on average from last year's offers. The meeting acknowledged that the cost of Boro production has increased and the farmers need the incentive to cushion the increased cost of production.
However, the government has kept the wheat purchase price at Tk 28, same as last year's, and halved the purchase target from last year's two lakh tonnes to one lakh tonnes this year.
Though Bangladesh has achieved self-sufficiency in rice production, up to 80 percent of the country's wheat needs is covered through public and private sector import.
As against a production target of 1.91 crore tonnes of Boro rice this year, the government's procurement is 15 lakh tonnes.
Though the public sector Boro buying hardly constitutes 8 percent of the total output, it sets the price tune in the market thereby, making sure farmers get fair prices in the open market as well.
Following the meeting, Food Minister Quamrul Islam told newspersons that payment of food purchase would be made directly to the farmers' accounts to thwart any move to buy food grain from the middlemen.
The government's rice and paddy procurement drive will start on May 2 and continue till August 31, while wheat procurement period is set from April 18 to June 30.
This year's procurement drive comes at a time when hundreds of farmers in the northeastern haor (backswamp) region have lost nearly half a million tonnes of rice due to an unusually early flash flood.
The food minister, however, said the loss in haor would not affect the total rice output in the country.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed and other officials concerned attended the meeting.