Millions of subsistent farmers of boro and aman rice and other crops after suffering staggering losses caused by floods in the northern and eastern districts have been hit again by soaring rice prices.
Marginal farmers lacking cash and rice stocks are finding it hard if not impossible to buy rice at the high price of Tk60 per kg to meet family needs.
Agricultural experts said that the hardship was forcing the farmers to either borrow or take recourse to distress sell their livestock to be able to pass the difficult days.
Subsistence farmer Siraj Miah of Ratanpur, Fulchari upazila, Gaibabdha district told New Age that after his two rice crops, both boro and aman on one bigha plot were destroyed by floods since April, he has no cash to buy rice for the sustenance of his family of five members.
He said that the hardship forced him to borrow Tk 5,000 for the survival of his family.
In last 30 days, prices of coarse rice varieties sky rocketed to up to Tk 62 per kg from Tk 48 per kg.
The price of finer varieties jumped to up to Tk 72 per kg from Tk 58 per kg.
Farm economists appealed to the government to extend interest free loans and cash incentives to the flood affected marginal farmers and widen safety net programmes to save them from stravation.
Officials told New Age that the Department of Agricultural Extension enlisted 11.5 lakh worst victims of floods, six lakh farmers of the haor belt and another 5.5 lakh farmers of the northern districts, who need immediate support for survival.
They said that many other farm families could not be enlisted though they too suffered serious losses during the floods.
Replying to New Age, agriculture ministry additional secretary for extension Mosharraf Hossain said Tuesday that a rehabilitation programme was under preparation for the flood affected farm families of the haor belt and the northern districts.
He said that incentive support was provided to 5.5 lakh farmers in 64 districts for growing pulses during the rabi season due to begin later this month.
He said that the incentive support was extended to all pulse growers whether or not they were affected by floods.
Food officials admitted that rice prices rose by Tk 10 per kg on an average in last 30 days.
They said that limited rice imports were proving too insufficient to meet the production shortfall caused by the devastating floods.
On Sunday, the government’s open market sale of coarse rice kicked off in urban centres.
But the government doubled the OMS rice price to Tk 30 per kg from Tk 15 per kg.
Bangladesh Krishak Samity general secretary Sajjad Zahir Chandan said that millions of boro farmers
became worst victims of recurrent floods in the Haor belt.
After losing their standing crops, he said, now they have to buy rice at high price for which they have no money.
Bangladesh Agricultural University professor of agricultural finance ASM Golam Hafeez said that being poor most of the country’s farmers couldn’t afford to buy rice at high price.
Agricultural economist Dr Jahangir Alam Khan said that hardship would force marginal farm families to eat less and subject them to malnutrition.
A former president of Bangladesh Agricultural Economists’ Association, he said that the government totally failed to tackle the rice production shortfall caused by floods.
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University former agronomy professor Abdul Hamid blamed delayed import of rice for its skyrocketing price.
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