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Supporting our farmers

  • Published at 12:04 am May 22nd, 2019
Farmers' market
Photo: MEHEDI HASAN

The market price is currently being dictated by these middlemen

The agriculture sector remains one of the most important sectors for our economy, being the largest employer in Bangladesh.

Unfortunately, the farmers who ensure the sector’s contribution to the economy often end up getting the short end of the straw.

For example, the last three weeks have seen widespread protests from rice farmers, who have been forced to sell their product at lower prices to private millers and traders, who wield too much power as middlemen between farmers and consumers. 

As such, the market price is currently being dictated by these middlemen instead of the government, who would do well to ensure that too much of the control is not resting in the hands of businesspeople manipulating the market for profit. 

The way to fix this is simple: By setting a minimum support price at which the government would buy the rice from the farmers, it could make sure not only that the farmers were getting fair prices but also that the market price was being controlled. 

While the Bangladeshi government has, to some extent, taken this route, by procuring less than 5% of the projected yield for the year -- a mere 1.85 million tons out of 35 million tons of rice produced -- it has ensured that most of the rice is being sold to the aforementioned millers, thereby undercutting the farmers in the process.

This target amount being bought by the Food Ministry must be increased so that a more level playing field is created, and farmers are able to sell their rice at fair prices.