HYDERABAD: The state government is being compelled to impose restrictions on paddy cultivation in the upcoming Rabi season after the Food Corporation of India (FCI) tweaked its rice procurement policy for public distribution system (PDS), according to official sources in the agriculture department.
Telangana is second only to Punjab as a major contributor of rice among all states to PDS.
Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao is expected to hold a meeting on regulating paddy cultivation for Rabi soon as the ongoing Kharif will end on September 31. The government is clueless on what to do with the abundant rice stocks of nearly 40 lakh tonnes from the Rabi season lying in the rice mills.
Paddy was sown in 51.48 lakh acres across the state as of Saturday in the ongoing Kharif season. The harvest is expected from October which will further compound the state government’s woes.
Meanwhile, the FCI has made it clear that it will henceforth not procure boiled rice from Telangana and it wants only raw rice. TS produces 90 per cent boiled rice and just 10 per cent raw rice. The state government procures paddy from farmers at the maximum support price (MSP) every season and sends the stock to rice mills for milling, which are later purchased by FCI for PDS distribution across the country.
The TS government takes nearly Rs 30,000 crore loans from various banks to procure paddy from farmers. It repays the loans after FCI purchases rice stock and reimburses the amount. As FCI refused to purchase rice stocks, the TS government will suffer huge losses since it will be forced to dispose of stocks at whatever price the traders seek.
In the recent Rabi, the state government procured 91.63 lakh tonnes of paddy from farmers. These stocks were sent for milling from which 62.75 lakh metric tonnes of boiled rice will be produced. But FCI has agreed to purchase only 24.75 lakh tonnes of boiled rice and for the ongoing kharif, FCI made it clear that it will not purchase any boiled rice but only raw rice.
Against this backdrop, the government wants to regulate paddy farming in the next Rabi and ask farmers to cultivate only 'sanna biyyam' (superfine quality rice), which is in demand in the market. The government wants to make it clear that it will only procure fine quality paddy from farmers for MSP from this rabi and those farmers who opt for traditional boiled rice have to do it at their own risk.