The Food Corporation of India has directed its regional offices in Telangana to not accept custom milled rice from the 2022-23 agricultural marketing season (kharif and rabi) after the September 30 deadline. The FCI’s direction comes a day after the State government wrote to the Union government asking it to extend the deadline by three months (up to December 2023). 

The FCI, however, wanted the officials to treat its direction (on not accepting rice from the State) as the “most important and top priority” as the deadline is coming to an end in two days.

To trigger a row

This could trigger a political row in the poll-bound Telangana as the State has huge stocks of unmilled paddy from both seasons. The State is facing challenges in milling the paddy stocks as the output has gone up over five times in the last few years. The State is saddled with over 30 lakh tonnes of paddy from the kharif and rabi seasons. They are yet to be milled. 

This is not the first time that the State has approached the Union government for extension of the deadlines to hand over the custom-milled rice to the Central pool. The frequent requests and the Centre’s decision to not to accept parboiled rice is resulting in political flash points, with ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) in the State and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) locking horns over the issue.

Unable to clear the huge stocks from the rabi season, the State government floated global tenders, recently, to clear 25 lakh tonnes. 

Political issue

The issue might take a political turn as the State goes to polls in the next few weeks. The Centre, however, is upset that the milling process in the State is moving at snail’s pace. They wanted the State government to rapidly increase the milling capacities to keep pace with the arrivals. 

Recognising the problem, the State government has set up a Cabinet sub-committee to plan for expansion of the milling capacities in the next 1-2 years.