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Ensure fair paddy price: Farmers urge BD govt
Rice Mills Owners’ Association (BARMOA) and farmers organise a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Photo. UNB

Ensure fair paddy price: Farmers urge BD govt

Dhaka, May 18 – Farmers on Saturday urged the government of Bangladesh to save them by ensuring that they get a fair price for paddy.
They made the call at a press conference at Dhaka Reporters Unity. It was jointly organised with Bangladesh Auto Rice Mills Owners’ Association (BARMOA).
Their demands included ‘identifying real farmers’, disbursing loan at two percent interest, and reducing electricity bill for irrigation.
“We can survive if the government fixes the price of per maund at Tk800-1,000,” said Sohrab Hossain, a farmer from Rangpur.
He urged the government to accept its demand. “We’ll be forced to stop producing paddy if we have to count loss,” he said.
Each maund of paddy is currently being sold at Tk500-600, an amount lower than the production cost, he said.
AKM Khorshed Alam Khan, president of BARMOA, demanded reopening the rice mills that have been shut down. He also pitched for lowering interest rate and electricity price.
“We’ll be able to export around one million ton of rice if the closed mills are reopened,” he said.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Abdur Razzaque said on Saturday that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is worried about the declining prices of paddy across Bangladesh.
“We’re looking for ways to address the issue,” he told a seminar arranged by Bangladesh Climate Change Journalist Forum (BCJF) in Dhaka.
Farmers have been counting about Tk 300 loss per mounds as the prices fell. A frustrated farmer even set his crop on fire as a protest.
Farmers have urged the government to ensure fair prices. “We’ll be forced to stop producing paddy if the situation persists,” one of them told the media in Dhaka.
Minister Razzaque said that there was not much scope to push up prices by procuring paddy from farmers.
“It’s very difficult to quickly solve the problem,” he said. “One of the solutions is to export rice. But it’ll pose a problem if the country is hit by natural calamities.”
The government is trying to address the farmers’ issues, he said, adding that a decision about rice export will be taken after high-level discussion.
Replying to a question, the minister urged everyone not to negatively view farmers’ protests where one of them set his crop on fire.
“Such protest takes place in many countries,” he said. “We don’t have food shortage anymore. We now have food surplus.”
The programme was chaired by BCJF president Kawsar Rahman where PKSF chairman Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad was present as the special guest. – UNB

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