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The low prices of Boro paddy have made the situation grim for farmers, as they are not getting a fair price for their produce. The government feels the export of surplus rice could be a possible remedy to overcome the difficult situation and help farmers overcome losses. Senior government officials have discussed the issue and apprised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Agriculture minister Dr Abdur Razzaque disclosed this while talking to The Independent at the secretariat yesterday. - A home for your website

Farmers of different places have aired their frustration at the low paddy prices. Some farmers appeared to be so upset that they protested by burning their paddy fields.

One maund (40kg) paddy is being sold between Tk 450 and Tk 500 in different markets across the country against the average production cost of Tk 650-700.

“The situation is very critical. Farmers are counting massive losses as they are not getting fair prices in the local markets while the harvesting of boro paddy begun across the country. The high-ups in the government are trying to find ways to protect the farmers’ interest,” Abdur Razzaque said.

When asked how to overcome the situation, the agriculture minister said, “We have already discussed the matter with the Prime Minister. It has been decided to export rice. The decision will be implemented after harvesting of 70 per cent of the paddy.”

He added, “Once we export the rice, the farmers will get a fair price for their products.”

The prices of goods depend on demand and supply, the minister said, adding that the

supply was huge compared to the demand, the minister said in reply to a query.

About 40 per cent of the Boro paddy had already harvested, Razzaque said, adding, “syndicates, middlemen and other beneficiaries will exist. So, we will have to think more deeply on how to protect farmers’ interest.”

At least 13 lakh tonnes of Amon additionally was produced in the immediate past season, the agriculture minister said. He added that the mere procurement of 12.50 lakh tonnes of rice would not ensure a fair price to help protect farmers’ interest.

Food minister Shadhan Mujumder told this correspondent that the government had decided to establish 200 paddy silos across the country on the occasion of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The farmers would benefit from these silos from next year, the minister added.

“We have also discussed about this paddy silos with the Prime Minister and she directed us to set them up immediately,” Majumder said in reply to a query.

Farmers were not getting any benefit from the electricity incentive, the food minister said, adding that the farmers would be directly benefited if incentives were given during the procurement of rice from them.

“I have sold 51 maunds of paddy at Tk 450 per maund last Friday. I had to spend Tk 15,000 to harvest my paddy on five bighas land,” Abdur Rahim, a farmer of village Gobindapur under Dhonbari upazila in Tangail district, told this correspondent.

Rahim further said he had spent a total of Tk 36,000 excluding Tk 15,000 to grow rice on five bighas of land where he got a total of 102 maunds of paddy.

“The price of total 102 maunds of paddy is Tk 45,000 to Tk 46,000. So I have to count loss of more than Tk 6,000 excluding the cost of my own labour,” he said.

“I am thinking whether I should grow rice next year because we are not getting a fair price in relation to the production cost,” he said.

The agriculture ministry has estimated that the production costs of Boro paddy and rice were Tk. 23.50 and Tk. 34 a kg respectively this year, but farmers are selling boro paddy for Tk 16.25 to Tk 17.50 per kg (Tk 650 to Tk. 700 per maund (40kg) in local markets.

Many farmers are not keen to harvest their paddy from the fields, for they cannot shoulder the cost of paying the labourers. Farmers are failing to give workers their daily payments even after selling a maund of paddy.