Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal yesterday said the government would take all measures to export rice, even if it means compensating for losses exporters might incur in the process, to ensure fair prices for farmers.
Farmers are complaining that low demand for paddy in the market resulted from high production this boro season, he added.
“I will discuss the issue with the honourable prime minister soon and will take action in this regard,” the minister told a discussion on “Krishi Budget O Krishoker Budget 2019-2020 (budget for farmers and agriculture)” at his office on the planning ministry premises in Dhaka.
The market prices of paddy and rice are lower this year because of overproduction. The low prices of rice have been creating some trouble this time. The production of paddy in other countries are also record high this year, said Kamal.
As a result, the prices of rice in other countries are also low due to oversupply, the minister said.
“This is why we will formulate a structured plan so that we can export rice in the year when the rice price will grow high. Such initiative will ensure a perfect balance between demand and supply of the staple in the domestic markets,” he said.
The government cannot stop rice imports but it could discourage it through different fiscal and monetary measures, said Kamal.
Moreover, sometimes the growers are deprived of fair prices of their produce due to unhealthy practices by the middlemen in the trade, which the government is also planning to bring an end to, Kamal added.
Currently, Bangladesh is the fourth largest vegetable producer in the world as the government has been encouraging the growers with financial support.
As a result, the export of vegetables also increased and the farmers are getting fair prices and also serving customers in the local markets, he said.
Media personality Shykh Seraj handed over a set of recommendations on agricultural development to Kamal for consideration in the national budget for the next fiscal year.
In the recommendations, Seraj, also the head of news at Channel i, said the government could take the initiative to purchase paddy directly from growers so that they can get fair prices by reducing unhealthy practices by the middlemen.
He also recommended introducing crop insurance for reduction of risks in investment in the agricultural sector.
Regarding the crop insurance, the minister said his government would launch it in haor areas soon on a pilot basis. If it brings success in these areas, the government will launch the same in hilly and char areas, he said.
He also recommended introducing modern marketing systems for agricultural products and increasing the use of machinery in agriculture.
Seraj compiled the recommendations on holding meetings with farmers in five areas in districts around the country. He has been doing this since 2006 with a view to incorporating those in national budgets.