Explained | Telangana’s paddy procurement row 

A farmer showing his sprouted paddy at Gouravelli village on the outskirts of Hyderabad. File Photo | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

The ongoing tussle between the TRS government in Telangana and the Centre over paddy procurement took a new turn as Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao on Tuesday decided to open procurement centres after his 24-hours ultimatum to the Modi government did not get a positive response. Accused of “enacting a drama in the name of dharna” by both Congress and BJP in the State, Mr. Rao had threatened to take the protest across the country if his demands were not met.

What is the TRS demanding?

The TRS government has been demanding that the Centre procure paddy (rice with husk) from the State at the minimum support price (MSP) to aid farmers. However, the Centre maintains that it can only procure raw rice and very less parboiled rice as per demand. State BJP president and MP Bandi Sanjay Kumar argued that the State government should procure paddy from farmers, convert it into rice, and supply it to the Centre.

The row is also over the procurement of parboiled rice, which is no longer largely consumed in India. TRS leaders have been demanding the Centre to procure parboiled rice even though the central government has made it clear that it can only procure raw rice. 

CM Mr. Rao has accused the Centre of making contradictory statements on paddy procurement. He said that the central government asked the State government to shift from paddy in the Rabi season; but even as it was doing so, Union Minister Kishan Reddy and BJP State president Bandi Sanjay “instigated” farmers to grow paddy and promised to procure the entire quantity.

What is the reason for low demand for parboiled rice?   

While raw rice is produced by drying and milling paddy without steaming, parboiled rice is cooked partially and then dehydrated and dried out for sale to consumers.

Despite being a State that does not consume parboiled rice, during the Rabi season Telangana usually produces large quantities of it for States that consume it but have a deficit in production. However, in the last few years, production in parboiled-consuming States like Jharkhand, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu has increased, resulting in lesser movement of parboiled rice to these States.

Centre’s stand on parboiled rice

The Telangana government has asked the Centre to buy more than 90 per cent of the rice produced by its farmers, including parboiled stock from the last Rabi season. If not, around 61 lakh farmers who grow paddy will be severely affected, says the State. 

Meanwhile, Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey has said that Telangana as well as all the other States delivering surplus parboiled rice were told in December 2020 that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) would not be able to procure surplus parboiled rice considering the availability of stock.

As of April 1, 2022, FCI had a stock of about 40 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice, which may be sufficient to meet requirements for about two years, Mr. Pandey said, adding that the Telangana government had given in writing that it will not supply parboiled rice to FCI.

The Telangana government was also asked to provide its procurement and packaging estimate for procurement of rabi raw rice in 2021-22 in February this year but the State government has not yet submitted the proposals despite several reminders, he added.

What is the standard process for procurement of paddy?

The FCI has an agreement signed with every State for the procurement of raw rice. Telangana, which is a decentralised procurement state (DCP), has agreements with mills for converting paddy into raw rice and parboiled rice.

The Telangana government should supply raw rice to the central pool, FCI Chairman and Managing Director Atish Chandra has said, adding that FCI bears the milling charges and has no problem in taking raw rice.

What does the FCI data show?

FCI’s data shows rice procurement from Telangana went up from 35.96 lakh metric tonnes in 2016-17 to 94.54 metric tonnes by 2020-21. According to the Secretary, FCI’s total parboiled rice procurement stood at 88.37 lakh tonnes for Kharif and Rabi combined in 2020-21. Out of this, 48.85 lakh tonne was procured from Telangana alone, which is more than 50 per cent of the total procurement of parboiled rice. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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Printable version | Apr 13, 2022 8:01:36 pm |