‘Buy paddy directly from farmers as soon as possible’
Eminent economists today urged the government to procure paddy directly from the farmers at reasonable price as soon as possible.
The call came up during a dialogue organised by Right to Food Bangladesh in association with Action Aid at the capital’s Jatiya Press Club today.
“If the government does not procure paddy from farmers soon, they will reduce production of rice, which will surely increase the prices of rice next year,” Mohsin Ali, general secretary of Right to Food Bangladesh, said in the session.
Khandker Ibrahim Khaled, a former deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, urged the farmers to get united against middlemen who pay them low prices while purchasing paddy.
Khaled, also vice-president of Right to Food Bangladesh, also raised questions about the role of the food minister in this regard.
Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), opined, “Agriculture is the base of the country’s economy. And the government should include agriculture and all other things related to it in its development planning.”
Although the primary goal of the procurement programme that started on August 31 is to give “price support” to farmers, it is not benefitting them much.
Bangladesh government is buying only 1.5 lakh tonnes of paddy from farmers under the ongoing food grain procurement programme while 11.5 lakh tonnes of rice (equivalent to about 20 lakh tonnes of paddy) from millers.
On one hand, millers are buying paddy in the open market at low prices and selling rice to the government at higher rates. On the other, the government is buying almost 13 times more (in terms of paddy) from millers than from farmers.
This means millers are gaining more both ways and farmers are facing losses due to low selling prices in the open market.