Paddy cultivation in rabi season exceeds estimates in Telangana
Hyderabad: Paddy cultivation in the ongoing rabi season in Telangana has surpassed expectations and projections. With abundant water reserves in irrigation projects following a good monsoon, no restriction on paddy cultivation, availability of free power, apart from the release of Rythu Bandhu funds, were seen as the factors, more farmers were seen opting for paddy.
While crops were sown over 28.56 lakh acres, paddy accounted for 18 lakh acres.
Data obtained from the agriculture department for the week ended January 11 showed that the normal crop sown area for paddy in the rabi season is 33,53,921 acres. Of this, the normal crop sown area till January 11 should be 8,29,279 acres. But farmers had sown paddy over an extent of 17,98,466 acres, which is more than double the estimated sowing. The figure for corresponding period last year was just 3,85,106 acres, which implies a four-fold increase this year.
Agriculture officials cite last year’s lower paddy cultivation to restrictions imposed by the Centre, which had refused to purchase parboiled rice from Telangana. Normally, parboiled rice is produced from paddy cultivated in hot summer months of the rabi season. The Centre had issued directions to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to purchase only raw rice in rabi.
The rabi paddy when milled produces broken rice; the Centre would not accept this and it would cause huge losses to the state government. From rabi paddy, every quintal equals 60 kgs of raw rice and 40 kgs of boiled rice. The FCI procures only raw rice at minimum support price (MSP) and the state government would be forced to sell broken rice at a lower price to the poultry industry, among others.
To avoid this situation, the state government discouraged paddy cultivation last year. No restrictions were placed this year as there is a huge demand for all types of rice in the local, national and international markets due to a shortage.
In this situation, the state government and farmers are confident that even if the Centre refuses to procure parboiled rice, they could sell it to private players due to the high demand.
After paddy, farmers opted for maize, which was sown in 3,21,537 acres till January 11 against the normal area of 2,32,372 acres, Bengal gram in 3,27,554 acres against the normal 2,89,270 acres, groundnut in 2,07,803 acres against 2,79,507 acres.
However, power supply could pose a major problem the summer months of rabi. This is because it is dependent on borewells during summer. Due to heat conditions, there will be peak demand for power for domestic and commercial sectors to meet which the government has to impose power cuts.
Notwithstanding, the state government claims of 24x7 free power to agriculture, farmers are being subject to 12-hour power cuts at night. Power is supplied from 6 am to 6 pm in some districts and from 3 am to 3 pm in others.
Farmers in several districts are holding protests in front of sub-stations demanding 24x7 power as promised saying that paddy crops are withering as they could not irrigate crops fully due to 12-hour power cuts. They say that they are only getting power for eight to nine hours daily.