Hyderabad: Anger is simmering among farmers who are coming out to show their discontentment to state ministers and ruling party MLAs across districts because of the “ban” on the sale of paddy seeds by the state government days before the onset of sowing for the rabi season.
Villages across the state are “passing resolutions” declaring and emphasising that they would indeed opt for sowing paddy because the government had not intimated them in advance on crop change.
It is not possible to go for alternative crops at this stage, when the rabi sowing is likely to begin in a week or so from November, for which they have made all the arrangements say farmers. They said that the government should have alerted them in advance and put them on a notice at least six months or a year prior, if it wants to impose a ban on paddy in rabi.
Farmers are asking public representatives as to who would buy their produce at the minimum support price (MSP) if they opt for alternate crops, since the state government has been procuring only paddy at an MSP directly from farmers.
Farmers demand that the government should come out with a clear policy that it will procure agricultural produce for an MSP if they opt for crops other than paddy. They cannot stop paddy production all of a sudden without the government giving clarity on all these issues.
Farmers are citing geographic and climatic conditions in Telangana for opting for paddy, especially during rabi. They say that soaring temperatures here during rabi were suitable only for paddy cultivation, and if they opt for other crops, they would not survive and would incur heavy losses.
Facing backlash from farmers, the ministers and ruling party MLAs are assuring farmers that they would take the issue to the notice of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao to ensure that the ban on paddy comes into force from November next year.
The Telangana government, which promoted paddy cultivation all these years after Chief Minister KCR unveiled his plans to make Telangana the “rice bowl” of India, took a U-turn on paddy all of a sudden, when the CM made a statement on September 12 that cultivating paddy would be suicidal for farmers as the Food Corporation of India (FCI) had refused to purchase boiled rice stocks produced in Telangana during rabi.
This was in complete contrast to his statement made on the floor of the Legislative Assembly on March 7, 2020, when he declared, “Telangana people are alone consuming 65 lakh tonnes of rice every year. Even if farmers produce one crore tonnes, there is no problem. Our government will purchase it. Farmers can continue paddy cultivation without any doubt.”
Enthused by the CM’s statement, paddy was sown in record extent of land, leading to Telangana breaking all records of produce — over three crore tonnes of paddy in a year in 2020-21 in Kharif and Rabi combined, making it the top state after Punjab in paddy production.
Citing FCI’s refusal to procure boiled rice stocks from Telangana, the state government, earlier this month, asked farmers to sow crops other than paddy. However, with a fear that farmers may not cooperate, the government started dealing with seed dealers directly, threatening them their licences would be cancelled and traders would be jailed if they sold paddy seeds to farmers in the upcoming rabi.
Last week, Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar held a meeting with all district collectors and directed them to “stop paddy seed sales at any cost”. After the meet, district collectors sprung into action and issued diktats to seed dealers to stop sales or “face severe consequences”. Fearing action, seed dealers stopped sales, which created a furore among the farmers.