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Why are the hands that grow paddy neglected?

Masum   Hossain

Masum Hossain

Sat, 1 Jun 24

After bringing their harvested paddy to the market, farmers are becoming increasingly disheartened due to the prices not meeting their expectations. In many cases, they struggle to even cover their costs. Meanwhile, the price of paddy continues to rise, but farmers' hands remain empty.

Farmers said that they are not making significant profits from paddy cultivation. Often, they only manage to recoup their production costs, if that. Losses are common, and if this situation continues, they fear they will eventually be unable to produce rice at all. Some have already started preparing to abandon rice farming.

Md. Nazmul Haque, Additional Deputy Director (Crops) of the Department of Agricultural Extension in Bogura, said, "This season, paddy has been cultivated on 187,150 hectares of land in this district, achieving our target."

However, despite the Department of Agricultural Extension meeting its production targets, farmers are not passing good days.

Talking to the farmers, it is known that, according to current market rates, it costs about Tk 13,000 to Tk 15,000 to cultivate and harvest paddy on one bigha of land. This includes expenses for plowing, fertilizers, water, pesticides, and labour wages. From one bigha of land, farmers can harvest between 15 to 23 maunds of paddy. Currently, the price of paddy per maund in the market ranges from Tk 1,100 to Tk 1,250, depending on the variety. Sometimes, the price per maund falls below Tk 1,000.

On average, considering the market value of the harvested paddy, if the yield and prices are good, farmers can earn Tk 5,000 to Tk 7,000 per bigha. This income from selling paddy does not even cover the farmers' labour costs.

From sowing to harvesting, it takes about three to four months.

Moniruzzaman Monir from Nandigram upazila in Bogura said that he cultivated paddy on about 40 bighas of land this season, including his own and leased land.

He added that getting a satisfactory price for the rice is very difficult. Additionally, natural disasters often reduce the yield, leading to losses.

Farmer Maruf Hossain from Shajahanpur upazila in Bogura said that it is hard to earn enough from rice farming to cover labour and sweat. This year, he has decided to cultivate rice for the last time. From the next season, he plans to lease out his land instead of farming it himself.

He also mentioned that he has purchased a battery-run auto-rickshaw, which he plans to drive to support his household expenses.
A survey of the paddy market revealed that the price of paddy produced from IRRI paddy ranges from Tk 46 to Tk 70 per kilogram, depending on the variety.

Analyzing the average prices of paddy and rice, it is evident that the value of rice produced from one bigha of land exceeds Tk 40,000. This clearly shows that middlemen are benefiting more than the farmers, who hardly invest any labour compared to the farmers.

Farmers alleged that the price of paddy increases every year, yet they remain neglected. As a result, in this agriculture-dependent country, the farmers are the ones facing difficulties. They are barely managing to survive, and making a profit as expected has become a distant dream.

Aminul Islam Sohag from Adamdighi upazila in Bogura cultivated paddy on 32 bighas of land this year. Sohag said that good yields and prices result in some profit, though it is minimal compared to the labor invested. Often, there is uncertainty about whether they will even recoup their costs.

Shahidul Islam, General Secretary of the Socialist Peasant and Agricultural Workers Front in Bogura, pointed out that the government recently started purchasing paddy through a lottery system. However, there are widespread irregularities and corruption within this system. As a result, a significant portion of the paddy is sold by businessmen, leaving farmers deprived. If this continues, farmers in the country will never be profitable.

He further mentioned that paddy should be bought directly from the farmers. To implement this, the government needs to establish paddy procurement centers in every union.

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