3.2cr tonnes of rice needed for food security in next FY
Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Experts at a dialogue here Monday said Bangladesh needs to set a target to produce some 3.2 crore tons of rice for fiscal 2008-09 to ensure its food security, reports UNB.

Addressing the dialogue, Food Adviser AMM Shawkat Ali and Agriculture Adviser Dr CS Karim said it is possible to achieve such a target even though it is a bit ambitious.

Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) arranged the dialogue titled ''Boro Procurement Strategy and Food Security: An Actionable Agenda'' at CIRDAP auditorium in the afternoon.

"Thousands of hectors of land in unfavorable areas like coastal and monga-prone regions can be used for paddy cultivation. And the production can be boosted by using hybrid seeds. So it''s not impossible to produce 32 million tons of rice," said Dr CS Karim.

Agronomists and researchers present at the function said some 1.8 million hectors of lands in unfavorable areas can be brought under paddy cultivation.

Food Adviser Shawkat Ali said a large part of the country''s lands are seasonally favorable and the strategic use of such lands for paddy cultivation can be another way to increase domestic rice production.

Chaired by CPD trustee board member M Syeduzzaman, the dialogue was addressed, among others, by BRAC executive director Dr Mahbub Hossain and agricultural scientists Dr Abdur Razzak and Dr Z Karim.

Dr Uttam Deb, the head of CPD research division, presented the keynote paper at the function.

Referring to the government''s target to procure 12-15 lakh metric tons of rice and paddy from the domestic market in the current season, experts at the function said both the rice milling and the storage capacities of the government should be there in its procurement strategy.

Statistics presented at the dialogue revealed that there are 13,579 rice mills in the country with a total capacity of 5.78 lakh metric tons while 649 storehouses with a total capacity of 17 lakh metric tons of rice.

Food Adviser Shawkat Ali said the government has decided to repair those godowns which have not been used for years and set up new ones, if necessary, to ensure proper and timely procurement of Boro rice.

The government has fixed the procurement price for Boro rice at Tk 28 per kg while Boro paddy at Tk 18 per kg.
The procurement drive started on April 16 as per the government schedule.

According to the experts, the prices fixed by the government to procure boro paddy and rice are reasonable and it will benefit the farmers. But a major challenge for the government is to balance the interests of the producers and the consumers through government procurement and public food distribution system.
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