Farmers across the country feel deep frustrations as they would not be able to celebrate Eid with their family members due to below the production cost prices of un-husked rice.
Farmers said that they would not be able to celebrate Eid unless financial help comes from the government to overcome the losses they had incurred after bumper boro rice production.
Speaking at a discussion at the National Press Club, rice grower Munni Begum from Raipura, Narsingdi broke into tears while narrating her family’s hopes for celebrating Eid getting dashed as she was compelled to sell un-husked rice at prices below the cost of production.
She said that she was unable to buy clothes even for her children.
Massive rice imports by the government brought down the prices for domestic rice.
Munni said she had to sell 40kg of un-husked rice for Tk 400 while she had to pay daily wage of Tk 600 for hiring each farm hand.
Speaking at the same discussion, rice grower Balaram Chandra Barman from the haor area of Habiganj said that the farmers were facing the hard times as the government did not procure un-husked rice from the farmers as its declared policy requires.
Jamalpur’s farmer Anjuman Ara said that she grew 45 maunds of rice on her two bigha plot spending Tk 25,000, but had to sell the produce at below the production cost.
She told the discussion that as she has no other source of income she was facing extreme hardship and was now unable to bear the education expenses of her only son who had just got admitted to Dhaka University.
Agriculture ministry officials said that there was no plan in place to ensure the just prices or extend financial support to the rice growers.
Now, farmers have to sell un-husked rice at Tk500-600 for 40kg while they had to spend at least Tk1,000 to grow 40 kg of rice.
The government procured 40kg of rice from Tk 1,040 but only from the millers.
On Thursday, agriculture minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque admitted at a news conference that the prices of boro rice fell after the government and the private sector jointly imported 40 lakh tonnes of rice.
He said that the government was planning to export 10 to 15 lakh tonnes of course rice to enter into the international rice market to compete with the other exporters like India, Pakistan and Thailand.
Agriculture economists, agronomists, agriculturists and farmer leaders asked the government to procure 50 lakh tonnes of un-husked rice directly from the farmers to solve the low price crisis facing the growers.
Bangladesh Agricultural University’s agricultural finance professor ASM Golam Hafeez said that the government should provide interest free loan to the boro farmers to enable them to raise their next crops.
The government would have to control supply of rice, he said, adding that incentive price of the crops, considering their production, should be ensured to the farmers.
International University of Business Agriculture and Technology’s agricultural science professor Ataur Rahman suggested for extending banking service to small traders so that they could buy un-husked rice from the farmers.