Jute farmers in Kurigram are not getting fair prices for their produces at the local markets despite a good harvest, because of poor consumer response.
Tosha variety jute is now selling at Tk1,000 per maund (40kg) on an average, which accounts for a loss of Tk300-Tk400 in terms of production cost.
Farmers say the government procurement centres are partly to blame for the situation since they have not yet started buying jutes from them, reports UNB.
An informed source at the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Kurgram said jute was cultivated on 24,000 hectares of land in nine upazilas of the district this season, up against an output target of 250,000 bales.
The production of the golden fibre was “as planned” and there were ample supplies to the local markets; but farmers’ expectations were yet to meet the reality, the source added.
A number of growers in the Jatrapur Haat, a popular jute bazaar at the Sadar upazila of Kurigram, could be seen sitting with large piles of raw jute unsold with no buyer around.
Farmer Haider Ali of Nunkhaoa came to the bazaar with 30 maunds of jute; but he said buyers were showing “little interest” in bargaining, let alone buying.
The seven government-controlled jute procurement centres that operate in Kurigram, under the aegis of Bangladesh Jute Mill Corporation, have a combined outstanding loan of over Tk50m from last year.
There had been no allocation from the government to pay off the loan or buy new jute from the farmers, sources said.
Rois Uddin, manager of Platinum Jute Mills which has an outstanding loan of Tk15m, said they had been struggling with loan repayments as the government had not yet provided any allocation in this regard.
“Buying jute from the farmers can be a long way off if we do not have enough money to repay our loans first,” he added.
Officials at the Crescent, Star, Latif Bawani and Eastern purchase centres shared similar stories.
Chief Jute Inspector Abdul Qader said the quality of jute this year was not “satisfactory” because of the drought; but the situation would improve in favour of farmers when all the centres start procuring jute from them.