RAJSHAHI, Feb 10: Due to delay in government's rice procurement drive in the district, the government is only benefitted by the owners of mills in Rajshahi rather than the farmers and growers.
The government started paddy procurement drive recently.
Sources said, paddy has been harvested more than two and a half months ago and most of the farmers have sold their produce to the owners of rice mills at a throw away price. As a result, paddy growers are being deprived of getting any benefit from the rice procurement programme of the government.
The farmers said if the minimum selling price of paddy would have been fixed by the government during the harvesting period, the farmers would get a fair price of paddy. But due to fixation of price at the later stage, the benefit of the procurement drive is being grabbed by the owners of the mills and the middlemen only.
They further mentioned, even if the rice is procured directly from farmers who have rice in their stocks, those farmers would be benefitted.
It is learnt, the Aman paddy was produced at 75,166 hectares of land this year which is seven per cent more than the last year with a target of producing 196,000 tonnes of paddy but farmers did not get fair price of Aman paddy in local markets. According to market sources, per maund of paddy was then sold to the mill owners and the local customers as well as the middlemen at Tk 500 to 600 only. The farmers had to sell their paddy at a far low price than the production cost.
Meanwhile, the paddy procurement driver of the government was launched from December 1, last year. Accordingly, the Department of Food officials were purchasing rice from mills owners at Tk 36 per kilogramme while the same rice is being sold at Tk 31 to 32 at the local markets. As a result, the mills owners, not the farmers are being benefitted from the drive of the government.
Piarul Islam of Shekherpara village of Godagari informed, the farmers are forced to sell their paddy soon after harvesting because most of the farmers need money for repaying their debts. The farmers would be benefitted from the procurement drive of the government if the selling price of rice or paddy was fixed just after harvesting of the paddy.
Anowar Hossain of Amgachhi village under Durgapur village informed, none of the farmers were able to get return of production cost of paddy this year. Most of the farmers had to sell their paddy at a low price before the fixation of government rate of paddy during procurement programme.
Afsar Ali, owner of Dola Rice Mills in Paba upazila informed, the government fixed the price of paddy and rice at such a delayed time when there was no paddy at the stores of farmers. As a result, rice mills owners were not being able to purchase rice directly from farmers. As a result, rice mills owners were being forced to purchase rice from the local hoarders and rice traders.
Rafiqul Islam, President of Rajshahi district Rice Mills Owners Association said the Aman paddy is being procured at Tk 3-4 per kilogramme more than the present market price by the government benefitting the mills owners and middlemen.
Nazmul Haque Bhuiyan, Controller of Food of Rajshahi said this year 7,773 tonnes of Aman rice will be procured by the government. The rice will be procured through 238 mills. He further mentioned, the authorities of food department can purchase rice from the millers not from any farmer.