Secretary to the Ministry of Food, Shahabuddin Ahmed, said on Thursday that the ministry is strictly following the Domestic Food Grain Procurement Policy 2017 to purchase food and food grains.
When asked about the allegation of procuring paddy and rice reportedly from middlemen including the godown owners, he said “we take action against those responsible. Sometimes, Food Ministry launches jhatika (whirlwind) operations to investigate.”
“Every Upazila has a food grain procurement committee led by the Deputy Commissioner. Upazila Nirbahi Officers are also involved in the committee. Upazila Agriculture officers send the list of marginal level farmers to the procurement committee, and paddy is collected from the listed farmers,” he also said.
He added that the government has a plan to preserve paddy through a project as there is no paddy preservation centre. And the proposal of the project will be placed before the ECNEC meeting.
When asked about the High Court rule issued Wednesday which asked the government to explain in four weeks why it should not be directed to purchase paddy and rice directly from the farmers, he said, “We will give our statement abiding by the court direction.’
The HC bench of Justices M Enayetur Rahim and Md Khairul Alam came up with the rule after hearing a writ filed by Jatiya Krishak Samity’s (National Farmers’ Association) General Secretary, Aminul Islam Golap.
Secretaries to the ministries of food and agriculture and director general of Directorate General of Food have been made respondents to the rule.
Aminul filed the petition on August 18 this year seeking a direction from the HC on the respondents to take steps to purchase the paddy and rice directly from the farmers in line with the Domestic Food Grain Procurement Policy 2017. In the petition, he said the government is supposed to purchase paddy and rice from the farmers as per the Domestic Food Grain Procurement Policy 2017.
But, it has been procuring the paddy and rice reportedly from the middlemen including the godown owners in violation of the policy, and therefore, the farmers are not getting a fair price for their paddy, the petitioner said. He also stated in the petition that the farmers are getting no scope and opportunity to sell their paddy/rice at the declared rate. As a result, farmers have been facing an irreparable loss and huge damage instead of having even the production cost.
Because the respondents are not purchasing the paddy /rice directly from the peasants, the third-party beneficiaries are taking different unlawful, mischievous opportunities to purchase the rice/paddy from the poor farmers at a lower rate. As such the petitioner served a notice demanding justice on 28.07.2019 to directly purchase paddy/rice from the farmers and to give compensation to them. But the respondents did not make any response to this, the petitioner said in the petition.