Protect interest of farmers to ensure food security: GEF
Abu Sazzad: The suspension of boro procurement through digital system is imposing a threat to ensure fair price of paddy in the current season, said experts.
Recently, the government has decided to suspend the app-based boro paddy procurement mainly due to coronavirus outbreak and the authorities concerned will apply such digital procurement system from the next year.
Talking to the correspondent, Global Economist Forum (GEF) President Dr Enayet Karim expressed his deep concern for withdrawing such facility, because such decision would patronize the middlemen to gain profit. At the same time, farmers would not be able to ensure fair price for the boro paddy.
The government had introduced the app-based procurement system through ‘Krishoker App’ which is appreciable, but the suspension of such policy this year for COVID-19 pandemic is not rational, he mentioned.
The app-based procurement system is more convenient to minimise coronavirus transmission and for ensuring fair price during the lockdown period, he pointed out.
Actually, the farmers are failing to minimise the production cost and the lower paddy price is forcing farmers to switch in the high-value crops in the paddy field, which is a concern for future food security in the country.
The government is providing Tk 26 for per kilogram paddy which is not enough to ensure fair price, he said adding that per mound paddy production cost is between Tk 800-Tk 850.
As the farmers are incurring loss for paddy production, the cultivable land for paddy harvesting is gradually declining that may lead the whole nation into acute food crisis in near future, opined the GEF president.
Actually, the economy is facing the worst ever economic recession for coronavirus outbreak and both the industrial and service sector are going through profound uncertainty to resume the business operation, he mentioned.
Only the bumper food grains production is the only ray of hope for the country to tackle complete economic recession and famine. “If we fail to protect the interest of the farmers, country will face severe food crisis in future”, he added.
Considering the overall situation in the lockdown period, Enayet Karim recommended for restarting the app-based paddy procurement system immediately for ensuring fair price as well as to reducing the dependency of the farmers to purchase their paddy and rice on the middlemen and political activists.
Industry insiders said, boro farming is set to decline this season as hundreds of farmers are worried for consistently lower paddy and rice prices, and for this, many farmers have switched to maize, vegetables and tobacco production.
Agriculture expert Dr Abdul Hamid said, many farmers in Rangpur, Dinajpur, Kushtia, Rajshahi, Khulna and Jashore regions have switched to maize, vegetables and tobacco this year mainly for gaining lower price against paddy.
The land leasing for paddy farming has declined by 10 to15 per cent this year, he observed.
“As rice is the main food of the majority people, definitely, we will have to facilitate the paddy farmers under special consideration”, he said.
Sources said, farmers incurred losses as Boro paddy prices fell to just Tk 380- Tk 450 per mound against the production costs of Tk 800 to Tk 850. Countrywide, the farmers also suffered massive losses during Aman season that ended in January as paddy prices were only Tk 550-Tk 620 per mound, they also added.
In this backdrop, the government plans to purchase 11.50 million tons of paddy, 1.15 million tons of rice, and 75,000 tons of wheat in the current season. The price for paddy has been fixed at Tk 26 per kg, rice at Tk 36, and wheat at Tk 28.
Country’s rice production in Boro season was an all-time high of 20.03 million tons last year, according to the Department of Agriculture Extension. However, the authorities concerned of agriculture department predicted higher production than the last season.