Agri Business

Stakeholders call for need-based planning to help Telangana farmers shift away from paddy

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on September 15, 2021

Govt says no to paddy in rabi; De-risking options available to farmers include groundnut, soya and vegetables

The Telangana Government’s advice to farmers not to cultivate paddy in rabi has come as a rude shock to the farming community.

 

Paddy has been a dominant rabi crop in the State. Actually, the area under this staple food crop has gone up significantly in the last three years as the State augmented additional irrigation facilities.

After record output, Telangana asks farmers to shun paddy this rabi season

That about 40-45 per cent of the State’s rabi area of 1.20 crore acres is under paddy this season shows how significant the crop is for the 60 lakh farmers in the State.

Over-dependence on paddy

A cross-section of stakeholders that BusinessLine spoke to are almost unanimous in their opinion — that the State should focus on crops like groundnut, soya and vegetables to de-risk farmers from the over-dependence on paddy.

“Barring paddy, turmeric and chillies, the State scores badly with regard to other food crops. It falls short of its requirements, forcing us to depend on neighbouring States for things like coriander leaves,” Sarampally Malla Reddy, Vice-President of All-India Kisan Sabha, told BusinessLine.

Alleging that the State government was inflating production numbers, he claimed that the issue was only about the additional output of 30 lakh tonnes. “Can’t the State and Central governments find a way to purchase this? It should not be a problem if there is a will,” he argued.

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A recent high-level meeting chaired by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao advised farmers not to go for paddy in the rabi as the Union government was backing out from procurement of parboiled rice. It said it would buy about 60 lakh tonnes of raw rice from the current kharif season.

Viable options

Kanneganti Ravi of Rythu Swarajya Vedika, which has been fighting farmers’ issues, expressed the view that that it’s good for farmers to move away from paddy to other crops in the rabi season. “We have been producing rice far more than our requirements. This is resulting in huge stocks left unsold. They are getting MSP (minimum support price) only when the government is procuring it,” he pointed out.

The paddy area in the State, which stood at 35 lakh acres in 2013, grew to over 1 crore acres last year.

“It is not sustainable to grow paddy in a large extent of land. Moreover, it is a water-guzzling crop. Prolonged cultivation of paddy in both the seasons will take a toll on the fertility of the farm lands,” he observed.

Asked about options available to the farmers if they want to move away from paddy in the upcoming rabi season, Ravi said vegetables could be a good option. “We face an acute shortage of vegetables. We depend on the neighbouring States of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to meet our demand for vegetables. The Government should encourage farmers to grow vegetables, pulses and oilseeds,” he advised.

He also called for detailed district-wise mapping of the crops suited for local conditions and prepare a calendar accordingly.

 

Published on September 15, 2021

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