HYDERABAD: The state has surpassed all records this Rabi season (yasangi) with regard to the extent of land under cultivation: 69.62 lakh acres, the highest since the state’s formation in 2014. Of this, paddy accounted for 52.73 lakh acres.
The normal crop area during yasangi used to be 36.43 lakh acres. This has almost doubled now, thanks to the government extending schemes like Rythu Bandhu, Rythu Bhima and 24x7 free power to farmers besides ensuring that there is no shortage of seeds and fertilisers. The crop area in yasangi last year had grown to 53.82 lakh acres.
As yasangi cultivation zoomed to 69.62 lakh acres this season, a record yield of 80 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrain is expected.
When contacted, minister for agriculture Singireddy Niranjan Reddy said, "Telangana witnessed a significant increase in total crop cultivation area because of the pro-farmer policies of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, which increased availability of irrigation facilities, including new irrigation projects, and enhanced groundwater levels. Excess rainfall also contributed to the growth. Since last June, Telangana state has witnessed 1,259 mm rainfall till January, which is a 48 per cent surplus when compared to normal rainfall of 852 mm during the period. Groundwater levels also increased by 2.32 metres from 8.88 m in January last year to 6.56 m in January this year."
Yasangi crops will start arriving in the markets in the next couple of weeks.
However, there is utter confusion over procurement of foodgrain from farmers for the MSP (minimum support price) by the state government unlike previous years because of uncertainty caused by the Centre's new farm laws over procurement operations under the price support scheme.
The state government had procured paddy, maize, Bengal gram, jowar, sunflower and safflower at the support price fixed by the Centre in the last Rabi season but the farming community has no such minimum guarantee this time, although the Supreme Court has placed the new farm laws under suspension and the Centre’s announcement of support price for Rabi crops.
Chandrashekar Rao recently announced in the Legislative Assembly that the state government will continue market yards and procure foodgrain for MSP irrespective of the final outcome of the Centre's farm laws.
However, his announcement did not bring cheer to farmers. This is because the state government had procured 64.16 lakh metric tonnes of foodgrain for MSP by setting up 6,408 procurement centres at village-level during last yasangi to prevent crowding in limited market yards in the wake of Coronavirus restrictions.
The Chief Minister by talking only about continuing market yards indicated that there will be no more village-level procurement centres. There are just 276 market yards in the state, which in no way match the 6,408 procurement centres of the state government.
If procurement is limited to only market yards, the farmers will have to depend entirely on FCI, which procures only stipulated stocks besides private traders which implies that farmers will not be sure of getting MSP for their produce like they used to get when the state government procured every grain from them all these days.
The civil supplies corporation is the nodal agency to set up procurement centres, procure stocks from farmers for MSP and make payments to farmers online within two to three days.
However, this time, there are no instructions from the state government to the corporation though yasangi stocks will start arriving within a fortnight.
When contacted, TS Civil Supplies Corporation chairman Mareddy Srinivas Reddy said, "The government is yet to take a decision on procurement. We have no instructions from the government on this issue. I can't say anything more on this issue unless clarity comes from the government."
In the wake of Centre's farm laws, the state government is not keen on procuring food grain this yasangi as it fears that it would lead to losses. It is already concerned over the Rs 17,500 crore loss from procurement since 2014.
A senior official of civil supplies department said, "The government had incurred Rs 7,500 crore losses due to purchase of paddy, sorghum, maize, red gram, bengal gram and sunflower. Though the government had purchased these crops for MSP, it had to sell them at lower prices, as there was no demand for them."
Data shows that due to paddy procurement alone the government suffered a loss of Rs 3,935 crore and for corn Rs 1,547.59 crore, sorghum Rs 52.78 crore, red gram Rs 413.48 crore, red sorghum Rs 52.47 crore, black gram Rs 9.23 crore, Bengal gram Rs 108.07 crore, sunflower Rs 14.25 crore.
After including wages paid to hamalis and other administrative expenses, the total loss was Rs 7,500 crore, he explained.
The civil supplies department has recommended the government not to set up village-level procurement centres in order to avoid further losses....