SIRAJGANJ, FEB 27: About 80 per cent of mustard out of total production in 16 districts of northern region is being smuggled to India each year through different border routes.
On the other hand, about 64,000 metric tons of mustard is being imported to the country from abroad every year to fulfill the internal demand, North Bengal Mustard Oil Mills Owners and Traders Association sources said. Sources further said that, the country is experiencing bumper production of mustard for the past four years. The farming of mustard is increasing here each year; similarly the production of the crop is increasing. But, the import of mustard seeds and other eatable oils is not reducing compared to the production.
Farmer sources said that, a huge quantity of mustard is smuggled to India, while its market price is low during the harvesting season. India purchases the mustard from Bangladesh at a lower price and sales oil cake, produced from the crop, at a higher price, they said.
According to a survey, at present, the green (moisturized) mustard is being sold at Tk 1100 to Tk 1200 at different local markets, while the dry mustard (less moisturized) is being sold at Tk 1800 to Tk 1900. Meanwhile, many wholesalers have started to store the mustard at their storehouses after purchasing at low price. They would supply the product to India after a few days through the border routes in the region.
Market sources said that, the demand of eatable oil is around 14 to 15 lakh metric tons in the country each year. But, around 28 to 30 lakh metric tons of eatable oils are imported to the country from abroad.
As per the statistic of Import and Export Bureau, about 6.68 lakh metric tons of mustard has imported in the country through the Chittagang port from Kanada and Australia in the last four years. According to the same statistic, on average about 63,555 metric tons of mustard is imported to the country each year. It is also observed that, the measure of mustard import is increasing here every year.
Agriculture Extension Department (AED) sources said that, about 40 to 50 percent cultivation and production of mustard have increased across the country this year exceeding the government target. This year, the government fixed the cultivation target of mustard on 4.90 lakh hectares of lands and expected to produce at 5.88 lakh metric tons of mustard. But, the cultivation target has already exceeded and a total of 6.5 lakh hectares of lands has already brought under cultivation. Consequently, the government is now expecting to produce around 7 lakh metrict tons of mustard.
In northern region, the government fixed the target of mustard cultivation on 220240 hectares of lands in 16 districts of two division-Rajshahi and Rangpur this year. But, more 60000 hectares of lands have additionally cultivated here. As a result, the government is now expecting that, they could be harvested at around 4.10 lakh metric tons of mustard from the region this year.
It is learnt from the statistic of Indian Agricultural Sector that, a total of 66 lakh hectares of lands in India have brought under mustard cultivation this year with the production target of 70 lakh metric tons. This is the record measure of mustard cultivation and production for the country. But, the demand of mustard is increasing day by day in the country India to export oil cake to other countries.
On the other hand, the use of mustard oil has increased there. But, its use did not increase in here as per the expectation. The people of Bangadesh including poor, ultra poor, middle and low income groups have raised the use of Soyabeen oil instead of mustard oil.
Sources said that, it is possible to produce around 2.5 lakh metric tons of mustard oil and 4.5 lakh metric tons of oil cake from 7 lakh metric tons of mustard, produced in Bangladesh. If it is done, the produced oil cake will help to remove the crisis of cattle feed and chemical fertilizer. But, Bangladesh is forced to import around 3 lakh metric tons of oil cake from India, whereas a bulk measure of locally produced mustard is smuggled to that country.
A reliable source said that, huge quantity of mustard is supplied to India through different illegal ways of Rajshahi, Chapainawabganj, Joypurhat, Dinazpur and Lalmonirhat border area. The smugglers supply the crop after managing some political leaders and officials of police and BGB.
Hazi Akbar Ali, Owner of Akbar Oil Mill at Kandapara in Sirajganj town said that, if the smuggling of mustard is prevented by the law enforcers, it would possible to produce huge quantity of mustard oil and oil cake in the country, which would help to fulfill the local demand.