POST TIME: 21 April, 2019 12:49:08 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 21 April, 2019 10:48:45 AM
Govt to show zero tolerance against irregularities, says food minister
Boro rice procurement

Govt to show zero tolerance against irregularities, says food minister

The government will not tolerate any irregularities in the procurement of Boro rice, and if any official or employee is found guilty during procurement, he or she would have to face legal action. The ministry will also file divisional cases against any corrupt official or employee found guilty during Boro procurement, and they would lose their jobs as well.

Food minister Shadhan Chandra Majumder made these statements while talking to The Independent yesterday (Saturday). Earlier, the government decided to procure 12.50 lakh tonnes of Boro rice this Boro season to increase its buffer stocks. It will also procure 50,000 tonnes of wheat.

“The government has set the Boro production target at 1.96 crore metric tonnes this year,” said Md. Mizanur Rahman, deputy director (monitoring), field services wing, Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE), adding that the farmers have cultivated a total of 49.33 lakh hectares of Boro. The figure was 49 lakh hectares last year.

“We want to ensure proper interest on the part of the Boro farmers. Boro rice will be procured from farmers directly this year. Only card-holder farmers can supply their products to local food offices and their payments will be made to their bank accounts,” Majumder said.

At a recent meeting, the minister warned the regional controller of food (RCF) to maintain transparency during Boro procurement, which is scheduled to begin from April 25.

“We won’t tolerate any irregularities during procurement. If anyone is found guilty, he or she would have to face the music,” the food minister warned the RCF.

The food minister also said committees have been formed, headed by upazila nirbahi officers (UNOs), comprising agricultural officers and local representatives, so that real farmers get proper prices for the crops they have grown.

While the food ministry was planning to buy local Boro rice from farmers at Tk. 39 per kg this year, the FPMC eventually decided to buy the rice for Tk. 36 a kg, maintaining similarity with the Aman procurement price, after estimating the production cost of Boro at Tk. 34 a kg.

The agriculture ministry estimated the production costs of paddy and rice at Tk. 23.50 and Tk. 34 a kg, respectively, the food minister said.

“The directorate-general of food (DG Food) will start buying Boro rice and paddy from April 25 from local farmers and rice millers. We will buy 11 lakh metric tonnes of rice, both boiled and Atap varieties, and 1.50 lakh tonnes of paddy,” Majumder said.

According to the estimation, 1.50 lakh tonnes of paddy are equivalent to 1 lakh tonnes of rice. The price of paddy was fixed at Tk. 26 per kg this year, estimating its production cost at Tk. 23.50 per kg, the food minister said. He also said the

authorities would buy boiled rice for Tk. 36 a kg, while Atap rice would be bought for Tk. 35 a kg.

According to the food minister, the department concerned under the food ministry had bought nine lakh tonnes of rice and 1.5 lakh tonnes of paddy last year.

Rahman added that the government has set the rice production target at 3.64 crore tonnes for the current fiscal year (2018–19), with an emphasis on the high-yielding variety (HYV).

The target has been set to produce 2.98 crore tonnes of HYV in the current year against last year’s production of nearly 3 crore tonnes, he added. The DAE official said of the total targeted rice output, 46.64 lakh tonnes are hybrid, almost 2.98 crore tonnes are of the high-yielding variety and the remaining 16 lakh tonnes are of the local variety of rice.