Both the consumers and the marginal farmers are incurring losses amid continuous surge in rice prices in the country, experts at a webinar observed on Sunday.
They suggested forming an Agricultural Price Commission (APC) to protect interests of both the small scale farmers and consumers, especially that of low incomes.
The virtual dialogue titled “Why is price of rice increasing? Whose loss, who gain”, was organised by the Citizen Platforms for SDG, Bangladesh with the association of CPD and Oxfam.
Mismatch in government data on rice output and availability, delay in import decision, government’s low stock of rice, its failure in domestic procurement and hoarding by millers and seasonal traders were pointed out as key reasons behind the rocketing hike of rice prices in the country in last six months.
Distinguished fellow of Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya moderated the programme while law makers Md Emaz Uddin Pramanik, Umme Kulsum Smrityl, former research director of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Dr Md Asaduzzaman, former director general of BIDS Dr Quazi Shahabuddin, media personality and director of Channel Eye Shykh Seraj, also spoke, among others.
Dr Asaduzzaman said prices of rice increased in July-September last year by 10 per cent while it also continued rising in Aman harvesting season.
He said coarse rice prices are nearly 50 per cent higher now than a year ago.
“But marginal farmers, who have below one acre of land, could not get benefits of the high price of rice as they had to sell those at a cheaper rate just after harvesting to prepare their land for next crops”, said Asaduzzaman.
But the same farmers are buying the staple at much higher rates, he said.
The former director said despite the outbreak of the coronavirus, production of rice was a record high in Boro season.
“After getting a bumper output, ministers said the country will overcome the economic shock through agriculture”, he said.
But farmers didn’t get required incentives, Asaduzzaman said.