It has been a disheartening realisation that farmers of our country, despite their back-breaking work in the fields to grow paddy that provides our main staple (rice), have had to bear huge losses as they could not sell their crops at a price that would give them a marginal profit. Instead, paddy prices were so low that they could not even cover their costs. According to reports, a farmer had to spend Tk 24,000 to grow a tonne of paddy and ended up selling it to the millers at only Tk 15,000—incurring a loss of Tk 9,000 for every tonne sold. Meanwhile, the government bought the paddy from the millers at Tk 21,600 at least—giving the millers a Tk 5,850 profit for every tonne.
Now, how is it fair that farmers, the real actors in providing us with food, are being deprived of what is due to them while millers, the middlemen, are gaining profits and that too, through government procurement?
The injustice of it all is far too blatant to ignore, and Centre for Policy Dialogue has rightly proposed a cash subsidy of Tk 5,000 (from the budget) to the country’s nearly two crore farmers to offset the losses. It is an expenditure that will somewhat compensate for the hardship these farmers are going through for no fault of their own.
We hardly have to reiterate how crucial the agriculture sector is for the country’s development. In simple terms, our farmers are the lifeblood of this country and they should be supported in every way possible. It is painful to see how farmers often pass days of uncertainty because they are not able to get a fair price for their hard-earned crops. Subsidies and other technical support are essential to make sure that farmers can survive and continue to grow the crops that feed the entire country. In the future the government must ensure that farmers get fair prices and help them adopt farming technologies that will bring down production costs and give better yields.