Farmers in northwestern Thakurgaon district are worried about a scarcity of quality rice seeds in the plantation season and blame a state agency for creating an unprecedented crisis that could cause food shortages and put livelihoods at risk.
Every day farmers line up in front of the district office of the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation
(BADC), frustrated at the lack of sufficient seeds to buy.
In the mostly agricultural northern region, if farmers do not have enough seeds to plant for the boro (winter rice) season, it will not only impact their own business but also affect national food production.
Subash Toppo, 32, a tribal Oraon Catholic, said his family depends on rice cultivation. “I needed 30 kilos of rice seeds to plant in the whole lands, but it took several days of waiting outside BADC before I was able to buy 20 kilos. I managed to buy the rest from the market at twice the cost.”
He said the seedling growth rate of BADC seeds was satisfactory, but those purchased from outside were no good. “Now I’ve got to spend more money to buy seedlings which will add woes to soaring fertilizer and irrigation costs.”
Several other famers also claimed they had been forced to buy low quality seeds from the market and most of the seeds did not produce plants.
“Most of the seeds were spoiled and I don’t know what to do. I’ve asked my brother-in-law to give me some plants for my land and only God knows what is planned for me,” said Jiten Tirkey, a tribal Oraon Hindu.
A BADC official denied allegations of manipulating the seed market and said it was wrong to suggest farmers are not getting enough seeds.
“We’ve opened the seed store for all. Everyone is getting seeds. There is no seed crisis at all,” said Mosharaf Hossain, 65, a local BADC store keeper.
official Ranjit Mardi, 32, said: “We have heard about a seed crisis this year, but unfortunately we don’t have any seed store or seed project to help them from here.”
Thakurgaon Catholic Church parish priest Father Anthony Sen said few people in the area have official jobs and they largely depend on agriculture. “If the relevant authorities don’t support poor farmers, their days of suffering from poverty and need will be prolonged.”
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