Dhaka, Bangladesh
Boro procurement Policy needs change

Boro procurement Policy needs change

It is ironic that our farmers have to suffer perils of plenty almost every year. Despite having a bumper Boro harvest, the majority of our farmers have to incur losses while the rice millers make big profit. There is a silent revolution brought about by the peasantry who can claim kudos for achieving autarky in paddy production. But they are deprived of fair price as the sale price is much lower than the cost of production. Farmers produce more although the price is low, because they have no other alternative. They produce more as they are to repay the loan they incur and to defray the expenses of all other necessaries. So, it will be a right decision on the part of the authorities concerned to buy paddy in higher quantity directly from farmers so that farmers get fair prices without meddling by millowners and middlemen. The demand for direct purchase grows louder as farmers continue to suffer losses due to low prices of the staple crop. According to a research conducted by the International Food policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Boro farmers can get fair price, if direct purchase of paddy is made from the growers instead of rice from millers. This step will increase the market price of Boro paddy during the harvest season. Had the government purchased paddy only from farmers, the price of Boro paddy could have gone up by 45 percent. Last year government's rice procurement from the millers was 81.1 percent while it was only 18.9 percent of rice in the form of paddy from the farmers, according to the IFPRI. Only 1.34 percent of Boro farmers could sell their produce to the government. Government's direct purchase from growers, we think, will be something like rescue strategy for saving farmers from incurring loss. The IFPRI has made some suggestions for protecting farmers' interests through the government's procurement programme. For ensuring fair prices, the government should fix the prices of paddy with various moisture contents, buy paddy from farmers at the local supply depots and get the paddy husked at rice mills. Only the rice millers approved by the government should transport the paddy from the depots to the mills. There has been persistent demand for buying paddy directly from farmers. If those steps are taken, market prices of paddy during the harvest season will increase. This will not only benefit farmers, but will also lower the retail price of rice in the market. Besides it will benefit the low-income people. As the government's policy is to protect farmers' interests, there should be a change in the BORO procurement policy. Buying paddy directly from farmers will ensure fair price for them.

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