Local apparel sellers suffer as well
The joy of Eid-ul-Fitr has been ruined for paddy farmers and their families in the country as they are in debt due to the losses in paddy cultivation.
Farmers in Nilphamari, Tangail and Narsingdi districts shared their misery with Dhaka Tribune as they failed to meet demands of new clothes for their children ahead of Eid.
Local apparel sellers in the districts expressed frustration as they can't make enough profit in business.
Although the government decided to procure at least 30 percent of the crops at around Tk1050 per maund, it is too late or not enough for the majority of farmers.
Poor farmers had to sell their crops to middle-men at low prices to overcome immediate financial needs.
Farmers say they have become hostage of the middle-men who are collecting their paddy and looking to sell later when the price rises.
In Nilphamari, farmers secured a bumper harvest cultivating Boro paddy, but with sale price dropping, they failed to cover the costs of investment.
Some of the farmers in the district are looking to sell their livestock to pay off their debts.
Farmer Ashraf Ali of the Bishmuri village in the Sadar upazila harvested 66 maunds of Boro paddy on three bighas (approx. 1 acre) of his land.
"I sold a maund of paddy at Tk450 and suffered loss of at least Tk2000 per bigha," Ashraf added.
Farmer Ali Hossain of the Manush-mara village of the Sadar upazila and Rabiul Hossain of the Jharh-shingho-shor village in the Dimla upazila expressed similar sentiments.
A local shop, Sathi Tailor's owner Shafiqul Islam in the Sadar upazila said: "Eid markets never disappointed us with shoppers crowding in, this year however our sales dropped so much that we are worried about paying our loans back and our employees."
In Tangail, two farmers— Abdul Malek of the Kalihati upazila and Nazrul Islam of the Basail upazila—who burnt some of their crops out of frustration respectively on May 12 and 13 are struggling to support their families.
Abdul Malek said: "Paddy cultivation in three bighas cost me around Tk40,000 of which Tk 30,000 was borrowed. Per maund of paddy earned me Tk510 with a total profit of Tk24,000.
"I worked hard for five to six months to cultivate paddy, but now I can't afford to pay back the loans and buy new clothes for my wife and two children."
Nazrul had borrowed Tk40,000 to hire workers to harvest paddy in 20 bighas of his land.
He said: “I have been growing crops since 1982 and entirely depended on it. Now I am desperate to sell some of my land, which will allow me to afford my daughter's education as well as Tk22000 of the money I owe the hired workers.”
In Narsingdi, farmer Emdadul Haq of the Tarakandi village in the Monohardi upazila reported his expenditure of Tk17,500 for paddy cultivation in about one bigha of his land.
“My family alongside the hired workers contributed to the cultivation. The land yielded 13 maunds of paddy which I sold at a loss of Tk 7,100.”
Farmer Sattar Mia of the Tekpara village in the Raipura upazila, said: “Eid is similar to any other day for me and my family. I am burdened with debt and couldn’t buy new clothes for my children.”
Similar emotions were expressed by farmers Muktar Hossain, Yunus Mia and Alauddin.
Narsingdi Agricultural Expansion Officer, Deputy Director Shovon Kumar Dhar said: “As the government declared to procure paddy at Tk1026 per maund, the farmers needed three months to process the paddy before sale."
“The farmers are incurring losses by immediately selling the rice to pay the hired workers, added Shovon.
Our correspondent Taiyeb Ali Sarker, Nilphamari; Abdullah al Numan, Tangail; Asaduzzaman Ripon, Narsingdi contributed to this report