Frustration among 539 farmers in Sylhet division is boiling over as the Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) on February 18 set prices for paddy seeds below the production cost of the farmers.
The aggrieved farmers, selected in December last year to supply paddy seeds to the BADC, on February 23 submitted a memorandum to BADC deputy director in Sylhet, demanding higher prices for the paddy seeds they are to supply, said Rakib Chowdhury, president of Moulvibazar Seed Farmers Association.
Admitting that the higher authorities of BADC announced the prices after the contract was made, Musharraf Hossain, deputy assistant director of BADC in Moulvibazar, said the price per kilogram of BRRI-49 variety of paddy seed has been fixed at Tk 30, while each kg of BRRI-11, BRRI-22, BRRI-32 and BINA-7 varieties were set at Tk 29.
Before setting the procurement prices for different varieties of paddy seeds, different aspects of production costs including sorting out of defective (also known as chita in Bangla) seeds, storage, weighing and transportation need to be considered, said farmer association leader Rakib.
Since the production cost, excluding other affiliated costs, was around Tk 30, the seed growers will incur huge losses if the BADC's procurement prices of different varieties of paddy seeds are not set between Tk 41 and Tk 45.
The farmers will not supply paddy seeds to the BADC in future unless the prices are set reasonably and ahead of time, he also warned.
Paddy seed grower Mofiz Uddin, from Bhuksimoil area of Hakaluki Haor in Moulvibazar's Kulaura upazila, said he took a loan to cultivate Aman paddy seeds on three bighas of land.
But with the procurement prices set by the BADC, he would incur a loss of Tk 3,000 and would not be able to repay the loan.
"I won't cultivate paddy seed unless the prices are raised. Since the costs of fertiliser, pesticide and labour are on the rise, there's no point in growing paddy."
Ashutosh Das, deputy director of BADC Seed Production Centre in Sylhet, said the assessed cost of seed production (by farmers) they sent to the BADC higher authorities was Tk 31.97 per kg.
Supriyo Paul, deputy director (marketing) of BADC in Sylhet, said, "We have nothing to do with the prices... The price is set centrally."
The higher authorities were informed of the farmers' concerns, he also said.