Home Bangladesh Agriculture Marketing dept not empowered to implement fixing price of commodities
Bangladesh - March 20, 2024

Agriculture Marketing dept not empowered to implement fixing price of commodities

Mahfuz Emran : The minimum and reasonable price of agricultural produce is determined by the Directorate of Agriculture Marketing. With that power, this organization of the government has recently fixed the prices of a total of 29 daily products including fish and meat, dates, various vegetables. However, the officials of the Directorate of Agricultural Marketing do not have the power to impose any kind of punishment if anyone does not comply. According to the Agricultural Marketing Act 2018, they can only file complaints through supervision. Then the first-class judicial magistrate has to be approached.
From the organization, therefore, the rational price of agricultural products has been fixed at various times, but it is not seen to be implemented at the field level.
Market participants say that prices are set at various times in the market, but due to lack of coordination between implementing or supervisory agencies, they are no longer implemented. One organization imposes liability on another organization. In this case, they think it is important to bring the market-related organizations under the same umbrella and take initiatives to implement it.
Vice President of Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB) SM Najer Hossain told, “There is no visible coordination of one organization with another organization in terms of market supervision in our country.
Although the district administration was supposed to coordinate at the field level. But we don’t see it. Nothing works without coordination. The concerned institutions are working separately. No one is following up if someone is fined. Law enforcement is also not proper. Because the law says that if the same person commits a crime more than once, his punishment will be higher. Incoordination has now become a major factor in market management.
The Department of Agriculture Marketing last Friday determined the cost of production, maximum price at the producer level, wholesale market and retail price at the consumer level for 29 commodities. Although the buyers are not getting the products in the market at this fixed price. Major inconsistencies in many products. According to the organization, the production cost per kg of broiler is estimated at Tk 146. Accordingly, the retail price is fixed at Tk 175. Although broiler is being sold at Tk 210-220 per kg in the capital’s retail market.
Besides, at the retail level, the price of beef 664, goat meat Tk1,003 and golden chicken Tk 262 per kg is fixed. Although beef is being sold at Tk 750-800, goat or Khasi at Tk 1000-1100 and golden chicken at Tk 320-350 in the capital’s retail market. Besides, the price of each piece of egg is Tk 10.5, but the sellers are keeping it at Tk 11.5.
When asked about the lack of reflection in the market even if the price of the product is set, the director general of the Directorate of Agricultural Marketing Masood Karimsaid, “If there is a disturbance in the market based on the law that we have fixed the price, we will have to judge through the mobile court. Because the Department of Agriculture Marketing cannot punish. We can only complain. Based on his evidence, the mobile court sentenced him. The method of filing a case in a mobile court is a brief complaint and then the two parties are heard and judged.
Section 4 (j) of the Agricultural Marketing Act 2018 states that the organization can determine and implement the minimum and reasonable price of agricultural products. To remove obstacles in the implementation of this law, there is a provision of imprisonment for a maximum of one year or a fine of Tk 1 lakh or both. However, according to the law, if someone is to be punished, it should be tried by a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class or a Metropolitan Magistrate. In this case, the law says, whatever is contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, a First-Class Judicial Magistrate or a Metropolitan Magistrate can impose punishment under this Act.
Mentioning that we have several limitations, Director General of Agriculture Marketing Department Masud Karim said, “Our biggest limitation is manpower shortage.” There are about 500 manpower all over the country. Among them, there are only two-three people in each district who can work at the field level. There are legal restrictions. So, we have to depend on others. No magisterial power of its own. We have also applied in this regard earlier. But according to the manpower structure it was not possible to give it. Because there are only a handful of first-class officers among our officers.
Regarding price determination, he said, “Production cost and rational price of 29 products have been determined by collecting information on scientific basis from the field level. At the field level, the employees of the Directorate of Agricultural Marketing collect this information according to the prescribed formula. In this regard, the assistance of other government agencies has also been taken. We are continuing motivational activities with traders before disciplinary action. The price has just been determined. All concerned agencies are responsible for its implementation. We also have a responsibility. We are quite aware of our part. This price may take some time to implement. The reason is that the price has been fixed.
The government fixed the prices on September 14 last year after the price of eggs, onions and potatoes increased. However, despite conducting raids in various wholesale and retail markets, the government agencies could not enforce the price. Before fasting, the government fixed the prices of several products including edible oil, sugar. After that, various government organizations including consumer rights raided various wholesale markets, refining or packaging mills in the country. Fines are also imposed for selling products at prices higher than the import price or keeping more stocks. But when the activity of the mobile court slows down, its impact on the market diminishes. Since the beginning of fasting, the prices of consumer goods have started to increase again.
Traders said that the prices of daily commodities are increasing due to mismatch between supply and demand in the market, buying products at higher prices from sources. They claim that the prices of goods are increasing due to inflation along with the increase in electricity prices. Due to the increased price from Mokam, the products cannot be sold at the price fixed by the government.
Traders have also raised questions about the pricing method of the Agriculture Marketing Department. They say prices depend on imports, production costs or supply to demand ratio. Undisclosed costs are not included in the prices being determined by the government at a time when everything is overpriced. As a result, despite fixing the prices at different times, it does not affect the market.
When asked, General Secretary of Khatunganj Trade and Industries Association ChayedChagir Ahmed told, “The market runs at its own pace. It is true, some traders try to sell products at higher prices at the retail level. But if the overall price of goods increases in a country, it should be understood that there is a crisis in production, import or supply channels. The administration has taken various initiatives to control the market. The Department of Agriculture Marketing has also fixed the prices of many commodities. But due to overall inflation, dollar and LC crisis, the crisis in the import process is not possible to lower the upward trend of the market.
Former Food Secretary Abdul Latif Mondal believes that products are not available in the market at fixed prices due to lack of coordination among the government’s supervisory agencies. In this regard he said, “Determining the price is definitely a good initiative. But according to the previous experience, these were not seen to be implemented. There is a lack of coordination among government oversight agencies. One party imposes responsibility on the other party. As a result, although these initiatives are good, their implementation is not seen. Prior coordination between regulatory agencies is required. In this case, a team consisting of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Commerce and law and order enforcement should be formed to supervise. Otherwise, even if big initiatives are taken, it will not be implemented.
11 agencies of the government mainly monitor the product market. They are Directorate of Consumer Affairs, Directorate of Agricultural Marketing, Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB), Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), City Corporation, Competition Commission, Tariff Commission, Safe Food Authority, District Administration and Police Administration. When the price of goods increases or during fasting, companies take various initiatives. However, this isolated work does not have much impact on the market.
When asked about this, Director General (Additional Secretary) of National Consumer Rights Protection Directorate AHM Safikuzzaman told, “Department of Agriculture Marketing has fixed the price, but its implementation is also up to them.” Now it is a matter of seeing if they seek the help of the magistrate to implement this price.
Pointing out that market surveillance is a very small part of the Directorate of Consumer Protection, he said, “Our work is very extensive.” There are many activities aimed at raising awareness among people. Apart from this, there are many complaints of the consumer, we handle the proceedings. Besides, we are conducting operations against expired products and fake products in the market. Regular market supervision is also going on.

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