Telangana, which has emerged as a rice granary over the last few years, is getting enquiries for rice supplies from its southern neighbours – Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The newly-formed Congress government in Karnataka has approached the Telangana government, for supply of over 2 lakh tonnes of rice. It needs rice for the ‘Anna Bhagya’ scheme promised in the recent Assembly elections.
Telangana Agriculture Minister Singireddy Niranjan Reddy told a select group of reporters at a farmer producer organisations conclave that Karnataka’s has approached the state and ‘it is under Government consideration’.
A State government source pegged Karnataka’s monthly requirement for the scheme at two lakh tonnes.
The Tamil Nadu Government has also approached the Telangana Government, seeking supply of three lakh tonnes. It has said it is willing to partly take parboiled rice from the state.
Surge in paddy output
Paddy production in the State increased by four times to 26 million tonnes (16 mt) in 2022-23, from 6.8 mt (40 mt of rice) in 2014-15, when the State was carved out of Andhra Pradesh.
During the period, the area under paddy has increased four times to 12.1 million acres (4.9 million hectares; aggregate of the kharif and rabi seasons) from 1.4 million hectares.
In the just concluded rabi season, the State procured 6.6 mt of paddy from farmers.
‘Buy more parboiled’
Meanwhile, the State continues to face problems with parboiled rice, forcing it to approach the Centre. On Saturday, the Telangana Industries Minister, K. T. Rama Rao, met Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal, and urged him to procure at least 20 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice from the State.
‘We grew paddy on 2.3 million hectares in the rabi season, which is 50 per cent of the country’s paddy area in the season,’ he said.
He told the Union Minister that the paddy grown in the rabi season is not conducive for milling for delivery of raw rice, within the stipulated broken-rice limit of less than 25 per cent.
The Centre earlier made it clear that it will not be able to procure parboiled rice from the State, citing huge carry-over stocks and a cold response from consumers. It, however, assured that it would procure raw rice.
Telangana said the State would have to face a heavy financial burden if the Centre insists on lifting only raw rice. ‘You have agreed to procure 10 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice (which is about 15 lakh tonnes of paddy). This would leave us with 51 lakh tonnes of paddy (or 34 lakh tonnes of rice) to be milled for producing raw rice (which will be delivered to the Food Corporation of India),’ Rao said.
Pegging the cost of delivery of one lakh tonnes of raw rice at Rs.42 crore, he said it would cost Rs.1,441 crore to deliver the remaining 34 lakh tonnes of raw rice.
This article has been republished from The Hindu Business Line