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Rabi paddy procurement: Telangana CM gives 24-hr ultimatum to Centre

Prabhudatta Mishra |K V Kurmanath | | Updated on: Apr 11, 2022
Telangana Rahstra Samithi leaders carry harvested rabi paddy at the Telangana Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday. The State Govt is demanding the Centre to procure the rabi season paddy.

Telangana Rahstra Samithi leaders carry harvested rabi paddy at the Telangana Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday. The State Govt is demanding the Centre to procure the rabi season paddy.

The Centre has made it clear that it is not going to accede to the State’s demand on procurement of parboiled rice

Telangana Chief Minister and President of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) K Chandrashekar Rao has given a 24-hour ultimatum to the Centre to spell its stand on procuring rabi paddy from the State.

Taking the fight to Delhi over the issue, Chandrasekhar Rao demanded the Centre to procure the paddy as it did with other crops in other parts of the country. He asked the government to come out with a new integrated agriculture policy. “The farmers are not begggers. They are not seeking alms,” he said.

Flanked by several of his Cabinet colleagues and senior leaders of the party, he held a daylong dharna at the Telangana Bhavan in New Delhi to bring pressure on the Union Government.

The Union Government, however, made it clear that it is not going to accede to the demand of the State, which had earlier “agreed in writing” that it won’t be supplying parboiled rice.

“Our policy is non-discriminatory and has been consistently uniform across the country. We cannot accept parboiled rice as its annual consumption is 20 lakh tonnes under public distribution system (PDS) whereas current stock is enough to meet demand for two years,” Union Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said, responding to the Telangana’s demand.

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Singh Tikait extended his support by attending it along with his supporters. He said there should be a uniform policy for the procurement of paddy across the country.

The issue

Despite the caution by the State Government, the farmers in Telangana grew paddy in over 35 lakh acres in the rabi season. Though the area was reduced by 20 lakh acres than that of the last year, this year’s rabi area crossed the season normal of 30 lakh acres.

Unlike in the kharif, the paddy grown in the rabi season is exposed to excessive temperatures, turning the grain brittle. In order to reduce wastage in the form of broken rice, millers boil the paddy before milling and produce parboiled rice. However, this particular rice has limited takers. Besides, the country is saddled with buffer stocks sufficient for over four years, forcing the Centre to stop its procurement.

To counter the State government-backed protests, the State unit of BJP too has launched a campaign, blaming the State government for the crisis. by launching a dharna in Hyderabad on Monday.

The Chief Minister convened a meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday in Hyderabad to take stock of the situation and chalk out the future course of action.

Centre firm

Asked whether the Centre would receive paddy and get it milled so that procurement from farmers can carry on at minimum support price (MSP), Pandey was non-committal as there is no such provision in the policy. He also refuted the State’s allegation that rice gets broken when processed as raw variety and not in parboiled form. “If that is the case, how Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are supplying raw rice,” he observed.

“Farmers do not produce parboiled rice. The current controversy is more of political in nature as the Centre has not refused to buy raw rice. The processing cost in parboiled rice is higher than raw rice, which could be one of the reasons the State is not acceding to Centre’s request,” a former top official of Food Corporation of India (FCI) said.

Published on April 11, 2022
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