With frustration in his eyes, rice grower Raziur Rahman was seen selling paddy reluctantly to a buyer at Durakuti Haat in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila last Tuesday.
He had nothing to be excited about as the price he had to settle for was way below his expectations. But he has mouths to feed and the market was not getting any better.
“I feel like I was cursed with growing rice. We bring paddy in the local market, but do not get any buyer. Having to sell below the production cost now,” Raziur said gloomily.
The elderly man from Durakuti village said this season he harvested 530 maunds (each maund equivalent to 40kg) of paddy from 40 bighas of land. Although he received an ‘agriculture card’, distributed to farmers under a list made by the government, he was not given the chance to sell even a single maund of his paddy to the government.
“None of the 200 listed farmers in my village got the chance to sell paddy to the government... The government’s procurement of paddy apparently has no impact on the market as the market rate now is even lower than that before the Eid,” Raziur said, adding that so far he only sold 65 maunds of paddy at the local market.
Echoing Raziur’s comments, Mukul Chandra Barmon, from Doljor village in Aditmari upazila, said out of 300 listed farmers including himself in his village, not a single person could sell paddy to the government this time around. “However, mill owners are selling paddy to the government.”
“I’ve lost my interest in growing rice the next time. I already decided that I will grow rice on 30 percent of my land and vegetables and other crops on the remainder,” he said.
Abdul Karim, another farmer from Lalmonirhat Sadar’s Karnapur village, claimed that genuine farmers are being deprived as mostly affluent businesspeople or people with political affiliation or influence are getting the chance to sell paddy to the government.
Saying that he too has lost interest in growing rice next season, Karim said he harvested 360 maunds of paddy this season and sold 75 maunds of it at the ongoing low rate at local market. “I planned that rather than selling the rest, I will preserve it at home.”
Rice mill owner Haider Ali, from Durakuti village, said unlike many other millers, he was buying paddy from growers.
Each maund of paddy is being purchased at Tk 460 to Tk 500 at the market now and it is unlikely that the price will rise soon, he also said.
Contacted, Lalmonirhat Sadar Upazila Food Controller Ayub Ali said paddy procurement of the government is going on and so far, they procured 753 tonnes of paddy, against the total target of 1,493 tonnes, from farmers.