POST TIME: 1 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Govt to buy paddy from farmers at Tk 26 per kg

Govt to buy paddy from farmers at Tk 26 per kg

The government has decided to procure 10 lakh tonnes of Aman paddy and boiled rice directly from marginal farmers and millowners from November 20, 2019 to February 28, 2020. Food minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder made the announcement at the Secretariat yesterday following a meeting of the Food Planning and Monitoring Committee (FPMC). Agriculture minister Muhammad Abdur Razzaque, disaster management ministry senior secretary Md Shah Kamal, food secretary Shahabuddin Ahmed, and Directorate General of Food (DG Food) director general Dr Nazmanara Khanum were present.

“For the first time, we'll procure six lakh tonnes of Aman paddy at Tk. 26 per kg directly from farmers. Besides this, 3.5 lakh tonnes of boiled rice will be procured from millowners at Tk. 36 per kg. We have also decided to procure 50,000 tonnes of non-boiled (Atap) rice from millowners between December 1, 2019 and February 28, 2020,” the food minister said.

This year, the production cost per kg of paddy was estimated at Tk. 21.55. The agriculture ministry estimated the cost based on field-level reports from its officials.

While the FPMC meeting was supposed to be attended by a number of members of the cabinet, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Local Government Minister Md Tazul Islam, Health Minister Zahid Maleque, State Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Ashraf Ali Khan Khasru, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Enamur Rahman and Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam were absent in the meeting.

The food minister also said the local administration would send the list of eligible farmers by November 10 and rice would be procured directly from the farmers as per the list.

The Food-Friendly Programme (FFP) of the government has been

extended from the earlier duration of five months to seven months to mark Mujib Year, he said. Under the programme, at least 56,000 village police officials would be provided with rice at the rate of Tk. 10 per kg, he added.

Fishermen would also be given rice for Tk. 10 per kg. A proposal in this regard has been sent to the finance ministry.

“The government will start buying paddy earlier this year so that farmers can sell their paddy directly to the government warehouses. This would ensure a fair price for the crops,” said the food minister.

“That’s why the FPMC meeting has been called three weeks ahead of schedule,” he explained.

Responding to a query on how the government would ensure paddy being bought directly from farmers, Majumder said that the agriculture ministry had prepared lists of farmers across the country. “The lists have been made following field officials’ reports. They will be handed over to the food ministry before November 10. The names of the farmers on the lists will be examined through databases. The names will be finalised after getting online confirmation. Only actual farmers will be allowed to supply paddy to the government,” he added.

The food minister revealed that the government has adequate stock of food grain in its godowns. As a result, there is not much space in the godowns to buy huge amounts of paddy and rice locally. But there are efforts to manage more warehouse spaces so that more paddy and rice can be bought from the farmers.

To manage the storage facilities, the government has decided to increase the duration of the FFP, which is often known as the fair price rice selling programme, to seven months instead of the standard five months.

So, fair-price rice will be sold at Tk. 10 per kg from March to May and from September to December, the food minister said, adding that the village police and fishermen will be included in the programme.

Agriculture minister Razzaque said the production of Aman paddy is likely to cross the target of 1.53 crore tonnes this year. The target was the same last year as well.

He also said the ministry has initiated a Tk. 4,000-crore project to procure agricultural machinery, including the reaper machine.

“It is now a major challenge for the government to ensure fair prices for paddy and rice. With this in mind, the government is planning to reduce fertiliser prices and enhance the supply of modern technologies so that the production cost of paddy can be reduced,” he added.