Farmers not showing interest to sell wheat to the state at lower price
The government is struggling to fulfil the target of wheat procurement from the domestic market this season as growers are not showing interest to sell the food grain to the state at a lower price.
Farmers are selling their produce in local markets for between Tk 30 and Tk 32 per kilogramme, which is about Tk 2 to Tk 4 higher than the government stipulated price.
This season, the government set the target of procuring 1.50 lakh tonnes of wheat from local markets at Tk 28 per kilogramme. Starting from April 1, the procurement process will continue until June 30, according the food ministry.
However, the government has been able to buy only 18 tonnes of wheat from across the country in 40 days until May 10, showed data from the food ministry.
To fulfil the target, the government will have to buy 132,000 tonnes of wheat within the next 45 days.
The government had 119.16 lakh tonnes of wheat in stock on May 10, down from 276.85 lakh tonnes on the same day last year, it added.
Last season, the government procured 103,212 tonnes of wheat from the domestic market.
In Thakurgaon, the government has set a target of buying 24,282 tonnes of wheat through 12 warehouses under five upazilas of the district. Still though, only four tonnes of wheat have been bought so far. As per data from the Department of Agricultural Extension in Thakurgaon, farmers produced 1.87 lakh tonnes of wheat by cultivating 45,192 hectares of land this year.
Some 24,282 farmers were selected in the district through a raffle draw for supplying the produce to government warehouses this season, according to local officials of the Directorate General of Food.
Nikhil Roy, food controller of Baliadangi upazila, said 1,975 growers were selected in his upazila but none of them have supplied even a single tonne of wheat as of yet.
Md Nafirat, a farmer of Baracoat village in Baliadangi, said he produced 60 maunds of wheat but is not interested in selling it to the state as local market prices are higher than the government fixed rate.
Monirul Islam, district food controller of Thakurgaon, said the pace of the wheat procurement drive is at a standstill now as the domestic market price of wheat is higher than that being offered by the government.
Meanwhile, the wheat procurement situation in Bogura, Gaibandha and Dinajpur is also severe as not a single tonne of wheat has been procured from the three districts due to the same reasons. Mohammad Ashraful, district food controller of Bogura, said they could not buy wheat due to the high price in local markets.
Echoing Ashraful, Antara Mallik, district food controller of Gaibandha, and Saiful Islam, district food controller of Dinajpur, said they were supposed to buy 1,430 tonnes and 1,400 tonnes of wheat respectively but have not managed to purchase even a single kilogramme so far.
They went on to say that the price of wheat has risen at home and abroad, as has other food items, in the wake of Russia's war on Ukraine.
Md Moniruzzaman, additional director of procurement at the Directorate General of Food, said farmers are not showing interest to sell the grain to the government as they are getting higher prices at local markets.
Currently, wheat prices are around Tk 30 per kilogramme, which is higher than the food department's procurement prices of Tk 28 per kilogramme, he said. "So, we are focusing on importing from the international market," he said.
The food office has already completed the tender process to buy 700,000 tonnes of wheat this fiscal year.
"Nearly 500,000 tonnes has already arrived but if needed, we may import more this year," Moniruzzaman added.