Dhaka, May 25 (UNB) – Stating that farmers are being deprived of fair prices of their produce due to the government’s wrong policy and corruption, BNP on Saturday demanded an additional allocation of Tk 10,000 crore in the national budget for paddy procurement from farmers.
Speaking at a press conference at BNP’s Nayapaltan central office, party secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir also warned that the consequences will be very dire since the farmers are losing interest in producing crops being deprived of fair prices.
“The misery that farmers face now reflects the wrong policy of the government. Bangladesh’s agriculture is now on the brink of ruination due to the government’s corruption and lack of farsightedness,” he said.
The BNP leader termed very simple and justified the demand for formers for procuring paddy directly from them. “We agree with the logical demands of farmers. The government must make an additional allocation of Tk 10,000 crore for procuring paddy from farmers.”
Fakhrul said though the government claims that the country has achieved autarky in producing rice, the government imported huge amount of rice only for ensuring the benefits of ruling party men.
He said 69 lakh metric tonnes of rice were imported through both the government and private channels in 2017-2018 fiscal year.
Besides, the BNP leader said, 3.3 lakh tonnes of rice were imported over the last 10 months while 97,000 more tonnes in wait for import.
“Farmers are being deprived of fair prices of paddy due to the import of huge amount of rice. Farmers are also not getting the fair prices as the government is allowing ruling party leaders and activists to procure paddy only to make their pockets heavier,” he added.
Fakhrul alleged that though the farmers set fire to their paddy fields as a mark of their protest against the falling prices of paddy, the government is not taking any step to ensure fair prices for them.
He criticised Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader for his comment that torching paddy fields is an act of sabotage. “Some other ruling party leaders tried to blame BNP for it as BNP has become their nightmare. They see the ghost of BNP in everything. That’s why they want to involve BNP with every matter.”
Fakhrul alleged that the government has indulged in huge corruption in the name of rice import. “The corruption has become so widespread in rice import that former minister Rashed Khan Menon was forced to talk about it.”
He said ruling party MP Ramesh Chandra Sen blamed ex-food minister Quamrul Islam for the current crisis in the agricultural sector.
The BNP leader said the government procures rice from mill owners instead of buying it directly from farmers to protect the interests of ruling party men and middlemen.
Fakhrul put forward some proposals to overcome the current crisis in agriculture sector and protect the interests of farmers.
BNP’s proposals include providing farmers interest free loan, renting private silos for procuring paddy by the government, distributing huge rice among people under the social safety net programmes, buying rice directly from farmers, canceling the permission that allows ruling party men to procure paddy, providing accurate information by the government about rice production, announcing the paddy procurement price before the cultivation of paddy and increasing paddy and rice procurement rate.
Fakhrul bemoaned that the government is giving loan defaulters special weavers, but it is not taking any step to waive agricultural loans.