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14 September, 2015 00:00 00 AM
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It should be obvious that thoughtful policies and their timely implementation are required to ensure good prices for rice farmers and to keep them motivated to grow rice in the long run

The other side to record breaking rice production

Our farmers in recent years have been scoring higher and higher  records of rice production. Thus,  aman rice production in FY2011 was 127.9 lakh tons, 128.9 million tons in 2013, 130.2 lakh tons in 2014 and  131  lakh tons in 2015. Likewise boro price production rose from 186.1 lakh tons in 2011 to 187.7 lakh tons in  2013 and to 191.9 lakh tons in 2015. Aman and boro rice are the two main rice  groups in the country and steady increases in production are noted for both. Both have been produced in their highest ever recorded quantities in the on going year.
Normally one would like to think that higher rice production is proving to be beneficial for farmers both in terms of their subsistence and selling  their surpluses in the markets. However, a credible media reports highlights that the rice farmers on the whole are not happy with rice production. The subsistence farmers have no choice but to go on cultivating rice for providing the basic staple to their family members even after absorbing higher production costs. But  many subsistence farmers tend to sell a part of their produce for cash to buy other essentials. But they remain deeply frustrated as they are finding their costs of production substantially higher than what they get from selling rice in the markets. The medium and large scale farmers are also similarly unhappy because they have not been the beneficiary of  good prices from growing rice.
The prices of rice in our local markets remain depressed and the same is affecting all categories of farmers. The successive bumper harvests  of rice led to a situation of overproduction or oversupply. Overall rice output in the country was  some 3.47 crore tonnes  in 2014-15 whereas the total demand for it is 3 core tonnes. The glut situation was made worse by allowing liberal import of cheaper Indian rice that further fed into the oversupply condition and further depressed prices.
Therefore, it should be obvious that thoughtful  policies and their timely implementation are required to ensure good prices for rice farmers and to keep them motivated to grow rice in the long run. Media focuses were made recently on how rice farmers in many cases are opting for non cereal farming of even tobacco to get profitable returns from their toil. Needless to say, if this trend keeps on then in the near future the present scenario of plentiful rice production could be replaced by one of underproduction of the basic staple  creating import dependence for it.
From a position of having basic food security, Bangladesh in that case could  be sliding back towards food insecurity. Therefore, it has become imperative to lose no time in keeping farmers interested in rice production through appropriate policies.

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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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