Home Bangladesh Traditional husking mills losing ground
Bangladesh - February 28, 2024

Traditional husking mills losing ground

40,000 workers lost job

Naogaon Correspondent : Traditional husking mills in Naogaon have been shut down in the last five years thanks to their inability to compete with auto-rice mills, high interest rate of bank loans, setting up of more rice mills and non-payment of millers’ dues by traders, according to rice mill owners.
The mills had created employment for 40,000 people in their good time. The workers are now forced to change their profession due to the closure of these mills. Some of them are now agriculture labourers, van pullers or garment workers in Dhaka.
Naogaon district rice mill owners’ sources said farmers here cultivate paddy on 90 percent of land in three seasons a year and produce 28lakh tonnes of the staple. Centring these paddies, around 1,200 small and large rice mills were set up in 11 upazilas with public and private banks loans.
Of those, 55 are auto-rice mills and the rest are husking mills (traditional manually-run rice mills). In the last five years, around 50 percent husking mills have been closed due to losses although auto-rice mills remain operational. The remaining husking mills are also about to close.
Naogaon Rice Mill Owners Association General Secretary Farhad Hossain Chawkder said the husking mills, once profitable, have been closed thanks to losses in business and high interest rate of bank loans.
“The key reasons behind the closures of the mills are — lose to the competition with auto-rice mills, high bank interest rate, setting up more rice mills against needs and non-payment of mills’ dues by traders,” he added.
In the peak season, the district produces 2,200-2,300 tonnes of rice per day on average. Of those, traders from different districts including Dhaka, Chattogram, Cumilla and Gazipur buy 150 truck-loads (each with 15-tonne capacity) of rice. Each tonne is sold for Tk50,000. Thus, rice worth about Tk11 crore is in the district per day.
Husking mills failed to meet the demand in a competitive market, especially in monsoons and winters; they take up to 8-10 days from soaking and drying 200 maunds of paddy to making rice. But auto rice mills are able to produce more rice in less time with less labour.
Rice husking millers suffer huge losses for failing to capture the market in time, causing the closure of half of the mills. Many more are about to close.
Moreover, due to high interest rates of the bank and its inability to compete with auto rice mills, the husking mills started closing one after another. Some of those have been rented out to plastic and automobile parts factories, feed mills and for drying wood husks.
Mostafizur Rahman, proprietor of MessrsRuzifa Rice Mill, said, “I set up the mill with a Tk20 lakh loan at 18 percent interest from a private bank and it was in operation for 10 years. After facing losses in several phases, I closed the mill four years ago.”
He said, “I have sold four bighas of land to repay the bank loans. Now I have rented the mill as a battery-powered vehicles’ garage.”
Naogaon Food Control Officer (Acting) Alamgir Kabir said 883 rice mills were contracted during the last boro season. Of these, 51 are auto rice mills and 832 are husking mills.

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