The Jaitya Party has demanded that the government should purchase paddy directly from the farmers and also rent private warehouses for the sake of the farmers.
The JP, being the opposition in the Jatiya Sangsad, was highly concerned over the miserable condition of the farmers who were counting heavy losses following the bumper harvest of the boro crop.
JP acting chairman GM Quader said this at a press conference at the party chairman HM Ershad’s Banani office on Saturday.
‘The government should directly purchase paddy from the farmers but not from the millers. And if the government does not have sufficient warehouse facilities, it can always rent private ones,’ Quader said.
‘When the production cost of 40 kilograms of paddy is over Tk 900, farmers are now forced to sell their produce at Tk 500 per 40 kgs. In addition, they need to hire labourers at Tk 600 a day for cutting paddy,’ he said, adding that the price of 40 kgs of poor quality husked rice was Tk 1,600.
‘The government must intervene against the profit-making tendency of traders and millers, who as middlemen take all the benefits,’ he said.
‘We must ensure the interest of the farmers first. For doing that we might go for a movement after Ramadan,’ he added.
The JP is also against the government decision to export rice for the benefit of the farmers.
‘First ensure that the local demand is met and then think of export. Being a former commerce minister I would say that government officials sometimes present wrong data,’ he said.
‘We will be in real trouble if we need to import rice on an emergency basis in future,’ Quader added.
He, however, avoided a New Age question as to whether the appointment of a miller as a minister had created the current problem.
Agriculture minister Mohammad Abdur Razzaque told New Age that it was not possible for the government to buy such a huge amount of paddy as farmers wanted to sell directly from them to cause the price to go up immediately.
‘For the existing huge stocks of rice, wheat and potatoes, the government now can stock a maximum of 17 lakh tonnes of paddy in its warehouses while this year’s output is 3.5 crore tonnes,’ said the minister adding, ‘Then if we plan to buy the crop from some select ones from among a total of 1.5 crore farmers, corrupt government officials might try to have benefits from the process.’
Razzaque commented that the situation was very complicated and the highest authorities in the government were also very concerned.
‘Yesterday the food minister [Sadhan Chandra Majumder] and I met the PM Sheikh Hasina to discuss the issue,’ he said.
He further said that personally he was also against export of paddy as nobody could assure of a bumper harvest of the aman crop in an environmentally vulnerable country like Bangladesh.
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