Direct rice procurement

Farmers dodged thru lottery system

Naogaon Correspondent

The farmers of Raninagar upazila in the district are deeply frustrated over the rice procurement activities in the upazila as authorities are buying rice through allegedly manipulated lottery. The farmers alleged to Bangladesh Post that as part of government decision to procure rice directly from the farmers, upazila administration has initiated to select the farmers through lottery. But in the name of lottery, they are buying the rice from their favourable selected persons who are not farmers at all.

They also alleged that names of people living in the capital or in abroad have been included in the list made through so-called lottery. This incident frustrated the real peasants across the upazila.Mentionable, Naogaon is the largest rice producing district in the country. The peasants this year fell in danger due to the lower price of rice that doesn’t cover the production cost even. To get them benefited, the government stared direct rice procurement from the farmer last month.

It is known that, names of 82 ‘farmers’ of Kaligram union of Raninagar upazila has been finalised through lottery. As per the plan, the government is supposed to buy one tonne of rice from every selected farmer.“But most of the listed farmers are expatriates who have not cultivated a single paddy. Some of the list are living in the capital whereas genuine farmers who cultivated paddy working dawn to dusk in the field and also have agriculture cards were not included,” said Abdul Khaleque, a farmer from the upazila.

Several farmers on the condition of anonymity told the bangladesh Post that one Saiful Islam, son of Abdus Sattar of Ratual village of the upazila, did not cultivate rice this year, but his name was listed.In the same way, they said, one Bipul Pramanik, son of Jamal Hossain of Sardar Para of the same village and an expatriate for two years, was also listed as farmer. Kahinur Begum, wife of Mansur of the village was included in the procurement list but, both the husband and wife have been living in Dhaka for last 20 years.

Meanwhile, some local farmers alleged that the local UP member took away the agriculture cards from them after their names were selected through lottery, and passed the cards to union parishad chairman, promising to pay small amount of money in return.“But, later they returned the cards after lottery without paying a single taka. When we asked for money, the member threatened us to punish instead with the support of local representative,” the farmers said.

During a spot visit at Ratoal boiler in the upazila, it was seen that one thousand maund of rice was being dried under the sun to be sent to the government warehouse. A female worker of that boiler said that Sirajul Islam Bablu, chairman of Kaligram Union Parishad, owner of those rice.Contacted, Chairman Bablu categorically denied that he was the owner of the rice.He said, “The farmers are not interested to sell their rice following the government obtained process. The rice being dried in the boiler are owned by farmers. I don’t know their names.”

The chairman also denied that he collected agriculture cards from the farmers through a member.Raninagar Upazila Nirbahi Officer Al Mamun claimed that the draw of lottery was performed in presence of local public representatives and farmers for buying 532 tonnes of rice from the upazila.He, however, promised to take legal action will be taken if any verbal or written complaint is raised by any farmer.Mentionable, 4,93,044 farmers in the upazila have agriculture card.