Last couple of seasons witnessed a substantial growth in rice production
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal on Sunday hinted about rice exports and restricting imports in a bid to bring relief to the growers hit hard by lower pieces of paddy.
“The country will export rice even though it needs subsidy,” said the minister while addressing a program at planning ministry in the capital.
The farmers were suffering not getting fair price of their produce as the markets had higher amount of stocks than what was needed.
Meanwhile, the rice, imported in recent years, increased the stocks, lowering the price further.
The minister, in the program, also criticized the rice import and said that the import would be banned immediately.
“The country’s farmers need to be saved and for that import must be stopped,” he said.
According to food ministry data, the country imported 2,00,000 tons of rice over the last 10 months of the current fiscal and 3,80,000 more tons are under process of import.
The government promoted rice imports two years ago withdrawing the import duties to meet rice supply shortage caused by 2017 flood, which badly affected crops, especially in hoar areas.
The government then had said they would require 10,00,000 tons of rice but a total of 60,00,000 tons were imported in last two years, said the food ministry.
Besides, last couple of seasons witnessed a substantial growth in rice production.
As a result, the prices of rice were not rational with farmers’ cost of production, which caused losses to the growers.
Meanwhile, boro rice has started coming to market, bringing down the rice prices further.
“Boro rice has started coming, adding to the stocks, which was already higher than the demand,” said HM Asad, a Karwan Bazar-based wholesaler.
“As a result, we have to cut the price by Tk300-400 per 50kg bag of rice to maintain market competitiveness,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
“The government initiative to keep the rice prices in favour of consumers deprives farmers of fair prices,” he claimed.
During a visit to several markets of the capital on Saturday, the Dhaka Tribune has found rice selling at Tk30 to Tk50 depending on their verities, which was Tk38 to Tk65 last week, a Tk8-15 fall per kilogram.
Experts were repeatedly calling for reducing production costs though increasing yield.
The minister Mustafa Kamal said the use of new technology could reduce the cost of production, bringing more profit to the harvesters.
Hinting at government initiatives for technological revolution in agricultural sector, he said that the government would bring high-tech agriculture machineries for the farmers.
“We want to provide such machineries at subsidized rates but the farmers are not interested to buy those,” the minister expressed frustration.