Dishonest middle-men have done a disservice to our economy and our farmers
The government’s online food procurement system -- set to be piloted in 16 districts on November 20 -- is a worthy and commendable initiative that hopefully will address some of the growing concerns regarding our current food prices.
Among the issues, the rampant problem of middle-men profiteering at the expense of our hard-working farmers seems to be getting worse, resulting in astronomical prices like the onion prices we are seeing recently, with our farmers seeing none of that profit, and the country’s population left furious at the bloated prices.
To that end, digitizing the food procurement system -- with the World Bank-financed Leveraging ICT for Growth, Employment, and Governance (LICT) project under the ICT Division, with the technical support of Ernst and Young (EY) in developing a software-based application -- is certainly an initiative that complements Bangladesh’s overall Digital Bangladesh manifesto.
In addition, digitizing procurement of food, along with bringing more transparency to the overall procedure, will also give our farmers the ability to sell their produce on their own terms, at the prices fixed by the government to government-approved agents, without the need to rely on unscrupulous middle-men.
However, since the initiative is still in its pilot stage, it is important now to ensure its smooth implementation and scalability; it is good that the government is proceeding cautiously to ensure its success, but there is little doubt that it is a project that must be prioritized.
For far too long, dishonest middle-men have done a disservice to our economy and our farmers, and it is about time their harmful presence was done away with.