Govt paddy procurement directly from farmers facing setback
The procurement policy of the government adopted to buy paddy directly from farmers may fail in Barisal division as more than 50 percent of them do not have any bank account.
Bangladesh Bank has taken the initiative in April to help farmers easily get the subsidies provided by the government. Through the policy the food department will purchase paddy directly from farmers and send the money to their bank account.
Following the initiative, the food department has started buying paddy in Barisal region in the middle of May and targeted to procure 16,214 tonnes of paddy from 44 Local Supply Depot (LSD) in the division.
However, the procurement policy is being hindered as only 5,65,407 farmers among 13,15,411 have bank accounts with state-run banks, said sources at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE), Barisal.
“Most of the farmers are not aware of this policy that is why they are not opening any bank account,” said Tushar Kanti Samadder, deputy director of DAE.
“It will take time as the policy has been launched newly,” he added.
Biswajit Baroi, secretary of Krishak Samiti Barisal, said many farmers failed to open a bank account as they did not know how to apply for it and where to go.
Many of them failed for not having the necessary documents -- like national ID card, birth registration certificate and card issued by the DAE -- to open an account, he said.
Ishahak Mia, a farmer of Batajore village of the district, said, “We have heard about the policy but could not open an account as many of us do not have necessary documents.”
Gazi Md Saifujjaman, deputy commissioner of Barisal, said, “When the farmers will understand the benefit of the policy they will open their bank accounts quickly.”
The public procurement of the recently-harvested Boro paddy in Khulna district is facing a serious setback for various reasons, including complexities the growers are facing in opening bank accounts.
So far, only 163 tonnes of paddy have been procured by eight food warehouses of the district over the last one month against the government target of procuring 9,044 tonnes from the district.
Local farmers said they have harvested the Boro paddy barely a month ago and sold the harvest at Tk 550-600 per maund at that time.
Some middlemen bought paddy from the local bazaars of Chandkhali, Garuikhali, Kapilmuni in Paikgachha upazila, Dumuria upazila, Chuknagar, Batiakhata upazila, Sadar upazila, Koiya, Rupsa Natunhat, Phultala upazila at a lower price and stocked it in their silos. As a result, traders are showing disinterest in buying paddy from these markets.
Meanwhile, the paddy growers in the district preferred selling paddy to the local market instead of the government food warehouses as they get cash as payment from the traders at local markets.
According to the Khulna food department, a farmer has to open an account for getting the payment for any public procurement. Farmers have to show their identity and agriculture cards to open an account, and once the account is functional, one can sell minimum 40kg of paddy containing normal colour, test and smell.
Mosharraf Hussain, a farmer of Malat village in Paikgachha upazila, said the boro farmers are being deprived of fair prices for the last several years. Besides, the production cost is increasing every year.
In the previous Boro season, the daily wage of a farm labourer was Tk 250, though it stood at Tk 300, he said.
Mosharraf noted he is not interested in selling paddy to the government as it has asked all to open an account for their own while it is easy for him to sell paddy at the local market for cash right away.
Mahbubur Rahman, an official of the district's Food Department, said they have so far enlisted 90 farmers for the public procurement that started in the district last week.
Some farmers alleged that they had faced troubles in opening bank accounts in Janata, Sonali and Agrani banks, he said.
Paikgachha upazila Food Inspector Manirul Islam Siddique said a target has been set to procure 335 tonnes of paddy from the upazila at Tk 23 per kg.