Coping with high farm productivity
FARMERS have never failed the nation, not even in bad times. But in times good, they simply act wonders as they have now, and the onus is squarely on us at the moment not to fail them. For, if we did so we would be breaking their heart, even worse, their back and the will to do even better, completely undistracted by hostile clime, even of the political variety.
Thanks to Awami League-led Mohajote government's substantial policy package complete with cash subsidies, supplies of low priced fertilizer and seeds and timely disbursement of agriculture credit, rice output is set to exceed three crore tonnes. Good boro and aman harvests this fiscal year together with a huge potato and tomato crops have brought into a sharp focus our very limited storage and preservation capacities. This drawback alone cost the small farmer heavily because they could not get the government-set prices as they failed to hold on to their stocks long enough.
In this context, it is of utmost importance that the government expand the warehouse facilities as planned to store 1.10 lakh tonnes of foodgrains as well as increase the storage capacity for other commodities from 15 to 25 lakh tonnes by the middle of next fiscal year. It will be good to bring forward the timetable. Hopefully, the production increases are envisioned in conjunction with projected expansion of silo facilities, otherwise higher productivity could turn out to be something of a liability. It is time we have an export angle where too the storage capacity will have to be beefed up.
What is equally important is efficient market management which is pivotal to ensuring fair prices of agricultural products to the farmers. It has to do with cooperative networking among the growers from whose doorsteps food processing and other agro-based industries get to pick up the commodities without letting these change hands. We have to evolve a marketing mechanism where the interests of both the growers and consumers are well-protected.