Even as it struggles to complete the milling and delivery of custom-milled rice (CMR) from last year’s rabi season, the Telangana Government will begin procuring rabi paddy from April 1 through over 7,000 procurement centres across the State.

The State, which procured 64.50 lakh tonnes of paddy worth  ₹ 13,000 crore last year in the last rabi season, is expecting to procure less this year.

The production is expected to come down as the area fell to 51 lakh acres against 56.44 lakh acres last year. Besides, a steep fall in groundwater levels over the last two months is expected to further lower the output.

Farmers associations fear that the production might come down by 15-20 per cent in the season as the farmers could not irrigate the crop at the crucial grain formation stage. Farmers in some parts of the State had to spend a lot of money on digging borewells in a bid to save the crops.

Telangana is a major paddy grower in the country in the rabi season. Of the 54 lakh hectares of paddy area in the rabi season in 2022-23, Telangana reported about 23 lakh hectares under paddy, followed by Tamil Nadu with 12.21 lakh ha and Andhra Pradesh with 5.51 lakh hectares. 

Prof. Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU) forecast that the paddy price per quintal will be around  ₹2,140 – 2,280 (Common) and ₹2,250-2,640 (Grade-A) at the time of harvesting (Mar to May 2024).

Rabi paddy woes

Since the demand for rabi rice from Telangana from other States has come down over the last few years, the State is finding it difficult to sell the rice from the summer season. The Union Government, which made it clear to the State that it is not going to accept the rabi rice, is allowing the State to get the rabi paddy milled and deliver it to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) after repeated requests from the State to accept the rice.

Despite getting the permissions, the State couldn’t meet the delivery deadlines for the 2022-23 rice. In the last two months, the Union Government extended the deadline twice. It asked the State to complete the delivery of the rabi backlogs by May 15. 

“It should complete the process before commencing the CMR delivery of the 2023-24 rabi rice,” it said in a letter.