Chattogram Deputy Commissioner Abul Bashar Mohammad Fakhruzzaman has called on traders to ensure the fair pricing of onions, urging them not to exceed Tk125 per kilogram.
During a meeting with city traders and importers, the deputy commissioner emphasized the need for transparency and warned that goods found in warehouses without proper documentation would be seized, extending this scrutiny to other commodities like sugar.
Fakhruzzaman highlighted the importance of proper listings and documentation, announcing plans to compile information on all warehouses in Chattogram’s Chaktai, Khatunganj, and Pahartali areas. The authorities intend to issue a public notification to validate the accuracy of the information provided by traders.
Regardless of the quantity in a warehouse, the deputy commissioner asserted that receipts would be required, and any goods found without proper documentation would be auctioned to the public at a fair price. Responding to concerns about a sudden increase in onion prices, traders in Khatunganj explained that such fluctuations were often influenced by importers during crises.
They pointed out that many involved in the onion trade were commission agents and hawkers who earned commissions per kilogram of onions sold. Additionally, they revealed that the onion market was heavily influenced by border-centric factors such as decisions made at Benapole, Bhomra, and Sona Masjid. The traders suggested that the government could break this syndicate by taking action against those controlling businesses at the border.
In response, Deputy Commissioner Fakhruzzaman assured that the authorities would communicate with the Ministry of Commerce to address the issues related to businesses at the border. He also appealed to residents of the port city to exhibit patience, discouraging bulk purchases due to price increases, and encouraged a more stable market environment.
Md Ahid Siraj Chowdhury Swapan, Director of the Chamber of Commerce, echoed the commitment of the business community to maintain ethical practices, disavowing responsibility for the actions of a few individuals tarnishing the sector’s reputation.
Rice Varieties and Prices Must Now be Printed on Bags, says Ministry of Food
The Ministry of Food has issued a directive mandating the inclusion of selling prices of rice at mill gates and the specific rice varieties on bags. The move aims to curb potential price hikes and enhance transparency in the rice market. According to the announcement on Wednesday (21 February), rice-producing millers must display essential details such as mill name, district and upazila name, production date, mill gate price, and rice variety on bags before supplying for commercial purposes.
The ministry’s decision follows observations in various rice-producing districts, revealing the sale of rice from the same paddy type under different names and prices. The notice highlights the blame game among millers, wholesalers, and retailers during sudden price fluctuations, causing inconvenience for consumers in obtaining desired rice varieties at fair prices and leading to financial strain.
To enforce these guidelines, the ministry emphasizes that information on rice bags should not be handwritten with ink. Instead, rice-producing mill owners must ensure that all sacks/packets bear printed details as specified. Corporate bodies are also required to adhere to these guidelines, with the option to include maximum retail prices in addition to mill gate prices.
District administrators, upazila executive officers, and food controllers are instructed to confirm compliance during inspections. Any violation of these guidelines may result in necessary actions as per the provisions outlined in the “Production, Storage, Transfer, Transportation, Supply, Distribution and Marketing of Food Products (Prevention of Prejudicial Activity) Act, 2023.”
Govt Initiatives Drive Lentil Cultivation, Targeting High Yields
Around 54,101 tonnes of lentils are expected to be produced from 35,380 hectares of land in the division during the current Rabi season, officials said.
The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) has set a production target of 32,411 tonnes of lentils from 20,620 hectares of land in four districts of its Rajshahi Agricultural Zone and 21,690 tonnes from 14,755 hectares of land in four other districts of the Bogura Zone.
DAE’s Additional Director Shamsul Wadud stated that all possible measures were taken to achieve the production target, providing farmers with newly developed high-yielding varieties of lentils. Small and marginalized farmers received seed and fertilizer support for lentil cultivation free of cost under the government’s agriculture incentive program.
Abul Kalam Azad, a farmer in Godagari Upazila, mentioned that he cultivates lentils to avoid irrigation water-related hassles for paddy. He cultivated lentils on six bighas of land this year without incurring extra irrigation costs. Farmers in the region find lentil cultivation appealing due to lower irrigation expenses and have witnessed abundant production in recent years.
Zakir Hossain, another farmer, highlighted that growers are increasingly interested in lentil cultivation due to its lower irrigation cost and consistently high yields in recent years. Sub-Assistant Agriculture Officer Atanu Sarker noted that farmers have achieved better yields in cash crops due to the promotion of high-yielding varieties and modern management practices.
Efforts from government and non-government entities are encouraging farmers to cultivate water-saving crops like lentils in the Barind area to alleviate the growing pressure on underground water resources. Over 1,500 volunteers are engaged in promoting water resource management for less water-consuming crops as part of the Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) Project.
Farmers’ interest in lentil cultivation has grown as they have experienced lucrative market prices for the crop in recent years. IWRM Project Coordinator Jahangir Alam Khan explained that farmers in high Barind areas, facing high irrigation costs for paddy farming, find lentil cultivation appealing due to its lower irrigation requirements.
Dr. Jagadish Chandra Barman, Principal Scientific Officer at the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute, emphasized the potential for significant lentil output in the Barind region. Cultivating lentils on around 80,000 hectares of fallow land after the harvest of transplanted Aman paddy could substantially contribute to reducing the country’s reliance on lentil imports.
The article concludes by highlighting the bright prospects of increasing lentil acreage, producing larger quantities with lower production costs, and reducing the pressure on lentil imports to meet domestic demand.
CCGP Gives Go-Ahead for Importing Lentils, Rice Bran Oil, and Wheat
The Cabinet Committee on Government Purchase (CCGP) approved several proposals on Wednesday for the government to procure lentils, edible oil, and wheat to address domestic demand. Chaired by Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal, the meeting also involved Additional Secretary of the Cabinet Division Syed Mahbub Khan, who briefed reporters on the outcomes.
The CCGP endorsed four proposals for the purchase of 14,000 tonnes of lentils and 10 million litres of rice bran oil, intending to distribute them to low-income individuals through the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB). The lentils will be imported through open tender, with Islam Trading of Chittagong supplying 6,000 tonnes at a total cost of Tk 62.28 crore.
Additionally, the TCB will procure 60 lakh litres of rice bran oil from local firms Majumdar Products Limited and MRT Agro Products Bd Limited at a total cost of Tk 94.50 crore. The price of rice bran oil per litre was set at Tk 157.50.
Two more proposals presented in the meeting include the import of 8,000 tonnes of lentils from India at a cost of Tk 77.88 crore and the purchase of 50 lakh litres of soybean oil from Bashundhara Group at a cost of Tk 78.61 crore.
Furthermore, the CCGP approved two proposals for the import of one lakh tonnes of wheat through two separate international tenders, with a total cost of Tk 348.46 crore. The bulk wheat will be procured through international open tender, costing Tk 175.05 crore, with suppliers Cereal Crops Trading LLC of the United Arab Emirates and Agrocorp International Pvt Ltd, Singapore. The cost per kilogram is set at Tk 35.01 and Tk 34.68, respectively.
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