HYDERABAD: The Food Corporation of India (FCI) is faced with a severe storage problem in Telangana state with paddy production increasing to record levels.
In the just-concluded rabi season, the state had procured 92.56 lakh metric tonnes of paddy from farmers. Of this, 62.93 lakh metric tonnes of milled rice should be handed over to FCI for the public distribution system.
But FCI's total storage capacity in TS is only 23 lakh metric tonnes. Vacant space is available to store only 7.62 lakh metric tonnes as FCI is yet to clear previous stocks from its godowns.
Hundreds of trucks are waiting for days and weeks outside FCI godowns for unloading the rice bags. The delay is causing damage to rice stocks due to the rains.
When Telangana state was formed in 2014, 24.3 lakh metric tonnes of paddy had been procured in kharif and rabi put together. This year, it procured 49 lakh metric tonnes in kharif and 90 lakh metric tonnes in rabi, totalling the highest-ever 1.4 crore metric tonnes.
There however is no corresponding rise in storage space in the state to meet the increasing demand.
FCI storage capacity in TS in 2019-20 was 20.47 lakh metric tonnes, which increased to 23 lakh metric tonnes this year. Even, this storage capacity is almost full. FCI godowns in Karimnagar, Khammam, Mahbubnagar, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Sanathnagar and Warangal have reserves of 15.38 lakh metric tonnes, leaving just about 7.62 lakh metric tonnes of vacant space.
FCI still has to receive 55.36 lakh metric tonnes of rice from the state government for PDS but the transportation was as there is no storage space in the godowns.
The state government borrows up to Rs 40,000 crore per year from banks to pay farmers for the paddy it has procured. The government repays these loans after FCI takes the rice stocks and pays money to the government. As there is a delay on the part of FCI in taking stocks, the state government will get the money late and this will mean payment of additional interest on the loans it took from banks.
Agriculture minister Niranjan Reddy and civil supplies corporation chairman Srinivas Reddy visited Delhi last week and met officials of the Union food ministry and FCI to solve the storage problem in Telangana.
Srinivas Reddy said the TS government is paying a price for the negligence of the Centre and FCI in increasing the storage space in the state and in making timely payments to state. The Centre owes over Rs 3,000 crore in dues to state government.