The country’s farmers in different districts have started incurring losses due to low prices of their produces, especially the seasonal vegetables, amid the on-going lockdown beginning from March 26 to fight the coronavirus spread, according to farmers and agriculturists.
Farmers were forced to sell their vegetable produces in low prices due to lack of buyers and traders in the local markets, they said.
Department of Agricultural Extension director general Abdul Mueed told New Age that the government decided to ensure uninterrupted supply chain for agricultural inputs amid COVID-19 lockdown.
Transports loaded with fertilisers, pesticides, diesels and other agricultural produces would remain out of the purview of the transport ban, he said, adding that the necessary government directives had already been issued in this regard.
He said that farmers were provided mobile phone numbers of the local DAE officials so that they could be in touch with them in this trying time.
Farmers were also facing problems across the country when buying fertilisers, pesticides and diesels, important inputs for growing the standing largest cereal boro rice during lockdown, they said.
The nation-wide shutdown — closure of all offices and businesses save those providing emergency services for 10 days and a ban on all modes of public transports — created transportation problems for agricultural inputs and produces, they said, adding that dealers of fertilisers, pesticides and diesels kept their stores closed fearing the spread of coronavirus.
Agriculture experts said that production of the standing boro rice and maize crops were being badly affected by supply chain collapse.
They said that the government should provide financial support to the seed production companies and other input suppliers because of the market suspension.
Abdul Mueed said, ‘We are going to review all our agricultural production plans considering corona pandemic to keep our food production and supply unhampered,’ he said.
Agriculturists said that farm labourers were not getting works in the croplands during lockdown.
Faijul Siddiq, a farmer from Nilphamari sadar told New Age that he was forced to sell aubergines, potatoes and tomatoes at Tk 4 to Tk 5 per kg due to the lack of customers in the local markets.
He claimed that production cost of his crops was above Tk 15 per Kg.
Shahab Uddin, another farmer from Bajitpur, Kishoreganj, said that he could not purchase fertilisers, diesel and pesticides from local markets.
Law enforcers forced to keep all stores closed except pharmacy and groceries, he said, adding that boro productions would be hampered if timely inputs were not provided.
Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University’s agronomy professor Abdullahil Baque told New Age that the government should provide financial support to ensure disaster recovery of all companies involved in seed production and input supply.
‘Farmers also need financial support from the government for short-term recovery. Otherwise they will face big problem with seed production and other crops amid mismanagement of input supply,’ he said.
‘It is a very critical time for agriculture. We need to make plans to talk with farmer leaders, seed production companies and other input suppliers. Because money flow is suspended due to market shutdown,’ he added.
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