Following record paddy production in recent seasons, lakhs of farmers in Telangana face a new challenge in the upcoming rabi season.
The state government has asked them not to grow paddy during the summer months because the Centre has stated that it will not purchase rabi production. Telangana’s main rabi crop is parboiled rice, which is consumed extensively in neighboring states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.
With godowns across the country overflowing with rice, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) informed the Telangana government that it would not procure parboiled rice. It has stated that it will purchase 60 lakh tonnes of Kharif rice (white rice) this year.
On Sunday, a high-level meeting presided over by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao discussed the impending challenge and decided to advise farmers to consider growing other crops.
After weeks of dithering, the State government finally procured paddy during the rabi season last year. ‘Last year, we procured over 92 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice.’ This year, the crop will be grown on 55 lakh acres. This could yield 14 million tonnes of paddy, according to a Civil Supplies Department official.
Telangana accounted for 63% of FCI’s total procurement during the rabi marketing season, thanks to a bumper crop.
The fact that millers are already burdened with approximately seven million tonnes of paddy demonstrates the enormity of the task. Officials advise farmers to grow groundnuts, soya, and other oilseed crops and vegetables instead of paddy to avoid a difficult situation during the summer season.
According to GV Ramanjaneyulu, Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, the State government has made a 180-degree turn in a year. ‘This is what will happen if cropping patterns are not based on local resources and needs and are only driven by skewed policies,’ he said.
Problem of Abundance
Telangana has increased its paddy production from about three million tonnes in 2015-16 to 30 million tonnes last year, making it one of India’s largest rice producers.
The area under paddy has increased to 40.46 lakh hectares in 2020-21, up from 14.6 lakh hectares in the previous year.