Shortage 10,6094 metric tons
Golam Mostafa Jibon: Finally, the government has become failure to achieve the paddy and rice procurement target fixed for the current Boro season.
A total of 9,43,902 metric tons of rice and paddy were procured by the concerned department till September 15, while it has fixed a target of 19.5 metric tons.
In this situation, there is a shortage of 10,6094 metric tons, which may fall a negative impact on the country’s food safety measure, experts said.
Though, the concerned officials of the government claimed that there is no possibility of creating food crisis in the country even after failure of achieving the procurement target as there is a stock of around 14.5 lakh metric tons of rice, the specialists claimed it may create a food deficiency along with price hike.
In the first phase, the government fixed the procurement deadline on August 31 starting from April 26.
Surprisingly, the concerned department could not procure half of the target by the deadline, which created frustration to the elites.
Finding no way, the government increased the time until September 15 with a view to achieve the goal. However, the target has remained unfulfilled due to massive negligence, irregularities and mismanagement by the concerned authorities, locals complained.
There is a complaint that, farmers could not directly provide paddy or rice to the food department due to political and bureaucratic complexities. Though, (See Page-2)
the government took some innovative initiative to avert corruption and anomalies as well as ensure direct communication between the government officials and farmers of the rural areas to avert middlemen, the unscrupulous officials of the respective food department carried procurement drives in collaboration with their recruited agents staying away from all processes of online.
In addition, they claimed that, incessant rains, long-term floods and corona pandemic were the main reasons behind the failure of achieving procurement target.
According to the Food Department sources, the government fixed the procurement target of rice and paddy at 19.5 lakh metric tons for the current season. With the aim, the drive for Boro paddy procurement was started on April 26 and rice on May 7.
At last, the time was extended to September 15 as they failed to achieve the goal.
As per the contract, there was a procurement target for paddy at 8 lakh metric tons. But, the procurement amount was only 2.17 lakh metric tons until the last date of the scheduled period.
The target of boiled rice procurement was fixed at 10 lakh metric tons, while the target for Ataap rice was fixed at 1.50 lakh metric tons. But, the concerned authorities have become able to procure 6,32,537 metric tons of boiled rice against the target at 10 lakh.
Similarly, the Ataap rice was procured at 94,347 metric tons against the target of 1.50 lakh metric tons.
It is learned that the government collects rice from local millers at fixed rate every year during the Aman and Boro season for emergency storage. However, this time the government has given more importance to the procurement drives in the current Boro season due to the corona epidemic.
Therefore, this time the target of paddy and rice procurement has been set higher than previous period keeping the matter of pandemic on head. But the concerned officials spent around one and half month for execution of the lottery.
Taking the advantage, the hoarders have accumulated the paddy from the hands of farmers depriving of the government within the time. Therefore, the government faced scarcity.
It is to be mentioned that, the government fixed the procurement price of rice at Tk 36 per Kg. But, the same rice was sold between Tk 40 and Tk 42 at different markets.
“It was not possible to supply rice to the government with the low price after collecting of paddy from farmers with high rate,” said millers.
While talking, some officials of the Food Department said, food controllers of 10 districts including Mymensingh, Gaibandha, Nilphamari, Gazipur, Bhola, Shariatpur and Kishorganj, some officers of district food controller offices and Officer-in-Charges of different LSD godowns were transferred to other places during the procurement drives. It has also caused of a negative impact on the officers as they can’t develop good communication and relationship with locals in a short time. It has hampered the drive.
Food Secretary Dr Mst Nazmanara Khanum said, “The procurement drive was not a satisfactory level. Farmers have sold their paddy to the millers earlier due to getting good prices. This is why, the target was not achieved.
Sarwar Mahmud, Director General of Food Department said, “We can’t fulfill the target as the target amount was high this year. Besides, unfavorable weather and impact of corona pandemic were main hindrance of the failure.”