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In Telangana, politics over paddy

TRS president and Telangana CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Sathupalli MLA Sandra Venkata Veeraiah (right), along with his Cabinet colleagues, MLCs, MPs, State legislators and farmers stage a protest during Maha Dharna at Dharna Chowk near Indira Park in Hyderabad on November 18, 2021, demanding procurement of paddy produced by Telangana farmers by the Union government.   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal

Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the Huzurabad by-election result in Telangana, relations between the national party and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government have deteriorated over the issue of paddy procurement.

On November 7, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao held a press conference where he waved copies of various letters from the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, and the Department of Food and Public Distribution and said that farmers should not sow paddy as the Centre was no longer procuring paddy in the Rabi season. He also blamed BJP president Bandi Sanjay for calling on farmers to sow paddy during this Rabi season and for saying that the BJP would make the TRS government buy the paddy. There were tense moments during Mr. Sanjay’s visit to paddy procurement centres in the Nalgonda and Suryapet districts where he said that the “government has to first buy paddy and supply the agreed quantity of rice through the FCI to the Centre”, which he said was not happening.

In Telangana, politics over paddy
 

However, Mr. Rao said after the TRS Legislature meeting on November 15, where it was decided that a ‘maha-dharna’ would be held on November 18, that the FCI was yet to specify the quantity of rice it would lift from the Kharif procurement. During the dharna on Thursday, he said about 5,000 of the over 6,600 paddy procurement centres planned were already open and about 10 lakh tonnes of paddy had been purchased from farmers so far. He also wanted clarity from the Centre on whether it would procure parboiled rice milled from the paddy produced in the Rabi season this year as Mr. Sanjay has been asking farmers to cultivate paddy in the Rabi season.

In a letter to the Civil Supplies Department of Telangana on September 8, the FCI had said: “Owing to surplus parboiled rice in the country and its limited consumption, the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD-GoI) has made it clear that FCI won’t accept parboiled rice from KMS 2021-22”.

The DFPD wrote to the Telangana government on September 30 laying down conditions for lifting of the custom milled rice (CMR) pertaining to the 2020-21 Rabi season, midway of the procurement exercise. It has specifically asked the FCI to take a written undertaking from Telangana that it would not supply parboiled rice in future. Of the 50 lakh tonnes the FCI was supposed to lift for the 2020-21 Rabi season, 24 lakh tonnes were taken and conditions were laid down for lifting another 20 lakh tonnes.

 

As Minister for Agriculture S. Niranjan Reddy put it, production of raw rice is not economical in Telangana during the Rabi season due to extreme weather conditions. “Processing raw rice from the paddy produced in Rabi is not feasible as the percentage of broken rice in the CMR would be 30-50% against the out-turn of CMR fixed by the Centre at 67% for raw rice and 68% for boiled rice,” he said. This being the case, the State unit of the BJP has been carrying out protests demanding speeding up procurement of Kharif paddy stating that it is slow and inept and also asking farmers to sow paddy again this season, resulting in confusion among the farmings. On the other hand, Civil Supplies Minister G. Kamalakar stated that about 4,500 procurement centres were open and over 9 lakh tonnes of paddy had been purchased till November 16.

Also read | We are ready to buy raw rice as agreed upon: G. Kishan Reddy

The State government wants clarity on the raw rice FCI plans to lift from Telangana in a year so that it can advise its farmers on growing paddy as diversification of cropping needs time. While the TRS is trying to portray the BJP as a betrayer of Telangana’s interests, the BJP envisions a bright future for itself.

chandrashekar.bhalki@thehindu.co.in


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Printable version | Jan 21, 2022 8:21:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/in-telangana-politics-over-paddy/article37568597.ece

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