Low rice price hits farmers hard

UNB . Brahmanbaria | Update:

Tangail farmer Abdul Malek Shikder set his Boro paddy field on fire protesting the price fall. File PhotoFarmers have been counting about Tk 300 loss per maund of rice in the current Boro season in Brahmanbaria due to fall in rice prices.

Visiting Ashuganj rice market, the biggest rice wholesale market of the country's eastern region, the UNB correspondent found farmers from Kishoreganj, Netrakona, Habiganj, Mymensingh, Sunamganj and Narsingdi bring rice here by river route. Rice mill owners buy rice directly from farmers at this spot.

Farmers said they have been counting huge losses as they are not getting a fair price this year. Mill owners instead of the government are buying maximum rice produced in the haor areas at a low price.

The production cost of per maund of rice including the labourer cost is near Tk 1,000 while its selling price is only Tk 550 to Tk 750 in the local markets, they said.

Ramzan, a farmer hailing from Sarail upazila, said he paid Tk 600 to a day labourer for harvesting paddy with an extra amount of Tk 200 for food.

In addition, he has been waiting for three days at Ashuganj rice wholesale market with 1,400 maunds rice and being forced to sell those at low price. "I have to count a loss of Tk 400,000 if I sale rice of one boat," he said.

Another farmer, hailing from Nikli village in Kishoreganj, said he will have to count a loss of Tk 80,000 this year.

According to local sources, frustration gripped farmers as each and every farmer counting losses who bring 50,000 maunds of rice daily on an average to Ashuganj rice wholesale market.

Nazrul Islam, a farmer said, the government has fixed price of per maund rice at Tk 1,040 , but they are being forced to sell rice at only Tk 520 to Tk 750 per maund.

District Controller of Food Subir Nath Chowdhury said farmers should sell rice in their own upazila food warehouses to get fair price.

Shahajahan Siraj, District Rice Mill Owners Association general secretary, said to protect farmers in this situation the government should stop rice import and buy more rice from farmers.

He also demanded a rice procurement centre of the government in Ashuganj rice market to buy rice directly from the farmers.

Ashuganj Food Control office sources said it would collect 33,923 tonnes of Boro rice in the current season. Of that, 24,437 tonnes would be boiled and 9,486 tonnes non-boiled.

Ashuganj Food Warehouse will collect 22,090 tonnes rice from 246 mills. Collection will continue until 31 August.

Decline in Boro rice prices were also reported from other parts of the country.

A Tangail farmer set his Boro paddy field on fire protesting the paddy price fall and the serious scarcity of day labourers in the district on Tuesday.

Farmer Abdul Malek Shikder staged this unusual protest at Bankina village in Kalahati upazila of Tangail.

Farmers in different parts of the country staged protests in different ways demanding fair prices of their produces. Students of different universities, including Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University and Rajshahi University, also joined the protest programmes.

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