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Procurement target missed as farmers lose interest to sell paddy

by Istiak Ahmed Shimul

Farmers are not showing interest to sell paddy to government warehouses on various grounds including non-acceptance of paddy at the warehouses without bribe. For this reason, no paddy was deposited to Srimangal government warehouse in Srimangal upazila of Moulvibazar.

Experts believe that non-storage of paddy in government warehouses is a threat to the country’s food security. And if the market goes out of the control of the government, it will affect the people of the country.

According to Srimangal upazila food control office, the target for Aman paddy collection in Sreemangal upazila is 442 tonnes. And the government price was Tk 1,040.  The time to collect this paddy from the first list of farmers ended on January 25. But despite extension of the collection deadline the government warehouse is still empty.

Sajjad Hosain, a farmer of Kalapur area, said the price of paddy is higher than that of the government price.

“In addition, we face various troubles including moisture measurement of paddy in the government godowns, chitta cleaning, load-unloading and transportation cost. Due to these problems, we are selling paddy without going to the government godown.”

Monwar Hossain, officer-in-charge of the upazila food warehouse, said, a circular issued by the ministry’s Internal Procurement Branch on October 30 last year called for the selection of two farmers’ lists by lottery from among the productive farmers at the beginning of the 2020-21 Aman seasons, using the experience of the 2020 Boro paddy collection.

“Farmers did not give us paddy as the prices were high in the local markets,” he added.

Mizan Mia, a farmer from South Uttarsur village, said, the price of fine and coarse rice is the same at the government warehouses but the price is higher in the local markets.

“I have suffered a huge loss by selling paddy in government warehouses every time. That’s why I sold my paddy in the local markets this time. I have also got good profit. I will never sell paddy in the government warehouse again,” he added.

Bakul Mia, a farmer from Sindurkhan area, said, it’s not just the price, it’s a lot of trouble to take paddy to government godowns.

“If we don’t give bribe, government officials will come up with one after another excuse like moisture content or higher percentage of chitta. And workers also have to be paid for loading and unloading. After covering all these costs, the price of one mound of paddy falls to 700-800 taka.

Other hand, there is no cost to sell paddy in our local markets. Some traders buy paddy from our house,” he added.

Upazila Agriculture Officer Nilufar Yasmin Monalisa Sweety said, the target for Aman production was 65,961 tonnes last year. The production was 72,276 tonnes. We got the list of farmers from the field level.

Dipendra Bhattacharjee, president of Transparency International Bangladesh Sreemangal unit, said farmers have to contact the people of the ruling party to get their names enlisted to sell paddy. There are various problems in selling paddy in government warehouses including giving bribes.

If the price of paddy is further increased by the government, farmers will be encouraged to give paddy in godowns, he added.

Upazila Food Officer Takbir Hossain denied the allegations of the farmers and said, “We have to take the paddy according to the rules of the government.”

Prof Dr Jasim Uddin Ahmed, chairman of the department of Agricultural Economics and Policy of Sylhet Agricultural University, the government is in trouble because of the incompetence of the staff in the field. On the other hand, there is a lack of proper monitoring by the government. If the government pays a little more to the farmers, the government will not have to face much loss.

He added that during the collection campaign, it is necessary to spread the word in the field. If necessary, people should be recruited on a daily basis at this time, but farmers should be motivated to sell paddy to the government. Because if there is not enough stock in the hands of the government, the traders can make syndicate and put the government in trouble.

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