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24 May, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Farmers unhappy over low Boro prices

OUR CORRESPONDENTs, Lalmonirhat, Noakhali
Farmers unhappy over low Boro prices
This recent photo shows some farm workers thrashing paddy at a village in Aditmari upazila of Lalmonirhat district. Independent photo

Despite the bumper yield of boro paddy in the current season in five upazilas of Lalmonirhat district, low prices for their output have frustrated farmers. Harvesting of boro has started in different areas of the district. Thanks to the favourable weather, farmers are eyeing a bumper production in the northern district.

While farmers are very happy with the bumper harvest, the price of newly harvested paddy is much lower compared to the previous year. As a result, they feel frustrated since they cannot recoup their investments after selling the paddy in the markets.

Hafijul Islam, a farmer of Kutitpar village of Mohishkhocha union of Aditmari upazila, said he cultivated three bighas of land this year, spending nearly Tk. 20,000 on irrigation and other inputs. He expects a good yield but expressed dissatisfaction about the market price. He mentioned that a mound of paddy was selling at Tk. 600–650 while the price had been more than Tk. 700 last year.

Abed Ali, a farmer of Kakina union of Kaligonj upazila, said that the cost of farming has risen abnormally because of the high prices of electricity, diesel and other inputs. “If farmers don’t get fair prices for their produced crops, how’ll they survive?’ he asked. He also mentioned that Tk. 8,000–9,000 are spent on a single bigha of boro paddy till the time of harvesting. He added that farm labourers take Tk. 1,800 to Tk. 2,000 for cutting a single bigha boro field. The cost of cultivating a mound of paddy is more than Tk. 600 but, at present, a mound of boro paddy is selling at Tk. 600–700 in the market.

According to sources in the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Lalmonirhat, farmers cultivated boro paddy on 49,860 hectares of land in five upazilas. As the weather and other factors have been extremely congenial, farmers will reap a bumper production. DAE sources, too, admitted that the cost of cultivating a single mound paddy is nearly Tk. 600 while the sale price is just Tk. 600–650. Abu Jafor, a farmer of Aditmari area, said if farmers do not get fair prices for their paddy or other crops, the cultivation of tobacco will increase day by day. The lucrative price of the tobacco harvest motivates farmers to cultivate this harmful crop in this region, he added.

The price of boro paddy is decreasing in the markets of Noakhali’s Subarnachar upazila as the new harvest is being reaped. Farmers are frustrated with the drastic fall in the prices of boro paddy. A section syndicate controls the paddy sold in the local markets and, at present, it is selling below production cost.

Many farmers of the upazila alleged that because of the low prices of paddy coupled with the high prices of harvesting labourers on account of their scarcity, most of the paddy cannot be reaped in the fields.

In all the local markets of Noakhali, nine upazilas are confronted with a most unfavourable situation during the middle of the harvest season. The dearth of purchasers in the markets have made them sell paddy at throwaway prices: a sack containing 50kg paddy is selling at Tk. 550 to 600 while BR-28 is selling at Tk. 570 to 620 per sack. Farmers, including marginal peasants, are passing hard times as they cannot repay their bank loans.

Farmer Md. Liton of Char Clerk told the Independent that though the government has fixed the price at Tk. 850 per mound, a section of dishonest middlemen is forcing peasants to sell the paddy for Tk. 500 to 550. If the paddy is not sold at Tk. 800 per mound, he pointed out, farmers would suffer losses because of the high prices of fertilisers, irrigation, labour costs and pesticides. The production cost of each mound of boro crops is Tk. 650 to 700. He is now worried about how he can repay his loans.

Another farmer, Ajahar Ahmed of Char Wapdda, told The Independent that he had to spend a lot of money but the production cost is more than the selling rate.

The farmers of all the upazilas in Noakhali alleged that the government department was buying paddy from the middlemen, not directly from the farmers. That was why they were not getting proper rates for their paddy. Intensely frustrated, they are not interested in cultivating boro in future.

Md. Ali of Begumganj said, “If we suffer losses this year, we shall lose interest in cultivating boro in the next few years. We urge the government to save us.”

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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