The harvest of Aman paddy has begun in many parts of the country with higher yield rates, raising hopes for another bumper output this season.
The government is expecting 14.1 million tonnes of Aman output this year from 13.5 million tonnes last season.
Paddy prices are relatively higher this year than that of last year amid a plunge in rice imports, said both farmers and traders.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Aman contributes 38 per cent, Boro 55 per cent and Aus 7.0 per cent of the country's total paddy supply.
The current output is showing a good trend, as more than 5.65 million hectares of land were farmed.
Sources said the acreage is 3.0 per cent higher than that of last season.
Six per cent of Aman harvest is done till October 11, according to a monitoring unit under the field services wing of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE).
The DAE said full harvest will begin in the first week of November and will continue to December.
Many farmers in Rajshahi, Barisal and Rangpur regions are now busy harvesting and marketing the staple.
Farmers have grown Aman at the highest 1.1 million hectares in Rangpur, 0.792 million hectares in Barisal and 0.78 million hectares in Rajshahi.
The DAE data shows Rajshahi and Barisal regions will give more than 50 per cent of aromatic and other finer rice varieties.
DAE field services wing director Dr Abdul Muyeed said they target 14.1 million tonnes of rice this season, including 2.8 million tonnes of aromatic varieties.
Farmers in places are getting more than 2.6 tonnes of rice per hectare which is a slight higher than last year's, he told the FE.
Mr Muyeed said favourable weather and a rise in the use of high-yielding varieties by the farmers have been contributing to such higher output.
Paddy prices are also much better now than that of last season, he observed.
Sharif Swapan, a Charaikhola farmer in Nilphamari, has grown aromatic Kalijeera in 3.0 bighas and coarse Swarna in 4.0 bighas this year (one bigha=33 decimals).
"We're getting 7.5 maunds (one maund=40 kilograms) from per bigha of Kalijeera land, which was 7.0 maunds last year," he told the FE.
Mr Swapan said the harvest of Swarna, now a major variety in Aman season, will start next month.
Kalijeera is selling at Tk 1,350-Tk 1400 a maund now, a ten per cent higher price than last year's, he added.
The farmer, however, grieved that rice blast has infested Swarna fields in some villages in his neighbouring Kishoreganj upazila.
He said the government must take necessary action to prevent the disease from spreading further.
Bangladesh Auto Major Husking Mill Owners Association president Md Abdur Rashid said Swarna was selling at Tk 880-Tk 900 per maund across the country last season.
The farmers are getting good prices for their produce, thanks to the imposition of higher duty on rice imports, he added.
Mr Rashid said daily rice import fell to 850 tonnes now, which was 10,600 tonnes before the duty was slapped.
The government re-imposed 28 per cent duty on rice import from June last.
Mr Rashid said the government's rice procurement from local millers also largely contributes to higher rice prices.
According to the Directorate General of Food, it purchased a total of 1.35 million tonnes of rice in Boro season at Tk 37 per kg.
Officials said the procurement from domestic sources will also continue this Aman season.
The Bangladesh Rice Research Institute estimates the national demand for rice at 33 million tonnes.
The BBS said overall rice production increased by 7.1 per cent to 36.2 million tonnes in fiscal year (FY) '18 from 33.79 million tonnes in FY '17.
The government has targeted to get 36.4 million tonnes of rice in the current fiscal.
Finer rice prices are still 48-54 per cent higher, but coarse and medium varieties are 1.0 to 7.0 per cent lower in retail market than that of a year ago, the Trading Corporation of Bangladesh data showed.
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