The government is going to build 200 new paddy silos across the country to expand its food grain storage capacity as well as to assist the country’s marginal farmers. Each of the silos will have storage capacity for 5,000 tonnes of paddy, according to government sources. Officials from Directorate General of Food said the government has decided to build the paddy silos after the country’s farmers incurred huge losses during the last Boro harvest.
Managing Director of Food Directorate Mosammat Najmanara Khanum told the Bangladesh Post: “Only increasing the procurement of rice would not benefit farmers; they would be benefitted if paddy is procured directly them. We are going to build 200 paddy silos across the country in a bid to assist the marginal farmers. Each of the silos would have 5000 tonnes storage capacity. Once the silos are built, we would be able to procure huge amount of rice directly from the marginal farmers.”
Sources said Directorate General of Food is not being able to procure paddy due to warehouse crisis. As a result, the government initiative to provide financial assistance to farmers by directly procuring the crop from them is not being fruitful. Mentionable, to assist the marginal farmers, the government took steps to buy four lakh tonnes of paddy directly from farmers. This initiative was taken in the wake of persistent losses incurred by farmers who complained of not getting cost of production of paddy during the Boro season. They said the price offered at wholesale market do not cover their production costs.
But the initiative failed to create any impact on the market as the procurement process is being conducted in a dillydally manner. Related sources said the government warehouses have a total capacity of preserving 20 lakh tonnes of paddy. At present, the volume of preserved paddy is 8,75,211 tonnes. Until last week, 83,651 tonnes of Boro paddy have been procured which is only 20.9 percent of the target. On the other hand, 5,96,419 tonnes of boiled grain have been collected.
As per the present situation, more 3,45,405 tonnes food grains can be stored in the government warehouses; but still procurement of 7,24,789 tonnes food grains is still pending. Mentionable, during the Boro season, the country’s farmers reportedly counted losses worth Tk 250-350 per maund. As a result, the government, with an aim to assist the farmers through decreasing the price of paddy, initiated to procure 16 lakh tonnes food grains this year.
But due to space constraints in the government warehouses, rice procurement process is advancing at a very slow pace, said concerned officials. Sources from Directorate General of Food said the initiative to procure paddy directly from farmers slowed down due to several reasons. The main reasons are warehouse crisis, scarcity of paddy at marginal farmers’ hands and reluctance of contracted rice mill owners to supply boiled grain.
The sources said marginal farmers do not have paddy at store. As they cultivated the paddy on loan, the sold out the production bearing losses at the beginning of the season to repay the loan. They, however, added that as the government has a number of food-oriented campaigns, a huge amount of stored food grains are distributed every month from government warehouses. Rice procurement process would get momentum once more vacant space is created in the government warehouses.
Former Managing Director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies Mustafa K Mujeri told the Bangladesh Post: “The main reason behind the government’s rice and paddy procurement is to ensure fair price for the marginal farmers. But the amount of rice the government is buying form the farmers is not enough.”