Buy from farmers, not millers | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 29, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 29, 2019

Editorial

Buy from farmers, not millers

Govt. rice procurement policy short-changing the farmers

The government’s ongoing food grain procurement policy to help farmers has had the opposite results. Under the programme, the government is buying only 1.5 lakh tonnes of paddy from farmers, which is less than one percent of the total estimated production of around 1.96 crore tonnes this boro season and 13 times less than the 11.5 lakh tonnes of rice—equivalent to about 20 lakh tonnes of paddy—it is buying from millers. This means the ones who are actually benefitting from the programme are millers, not the farmers the programme is intended to assist.

Government agencies have claimed that it is buying the bulk of its products from millers as it lacks storage space for paddy, which requires more space than rice, and this problem is yet to be resolved because of policy issues. Under this setting, millers are buying rice at a low price from farmers and selling it at a high price to the government. And in the process, they are making a profit of Tk 5,850 per tonne, whereas farmers are making a loss of Tk 9,000.

The entire state of affairs is simply absurd. Given that this is a yearly affair, why hasn’t the government fixed its policy issues? Don’t policymakers recognise the urgency of the situation? Why are they still making policies that are counterproductive? Moreover, in the absence of storage space, why did the government even initiate this programme without any pre-planning? Did it not know that buying the bulk of its produce from millers will not benefit the farmers? If not, then what that means is that the ministry didn’t even bother to consult those its policy was intended to help which is just ridiculous.

This string of bad decisions by the authorities has done nothing but waste public resources. We call on the government to immediately fix the mess and to buy from the farmers directly.

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