HYDERABAD: Farmers cultivating fine grain varieties of paddy under the ayacut of Nagarjunasagar left bank canal in erstwhile Nalgonda district have been witnessing a sharp drop in the price offered at the rice mills in Miryalaguda for the past week.
Though the price was Rs 2,200 per quintal during the first two weeks, the farmers are now being offered Rs 1,900. Paddy has come for an early harvest in Vemulapally, Miryalaguda, Damaracherla, Tripuraram, Nereducherla, Garidepally, Nidamanoor, Huzurnagar and Haliya mandals, grown in around 4 lakh acres this Rabi season. About 50 per cent of it has been harvested till now.
The farmers in these areas have grown mostly HMT and ASR varieties of fine grain paddy which have fair demand in the domestic markets. "Even six years ago, we were getting around Rs 2,100 and Rs 2,200 per quintal in Miryalaguda. Now, input costs like labour, harvesting machine rentals, fertilisers and transportation have increased sharply," observed P Ram Reddy, a farmer from Vemulapally mandal, who was among the early birds lucky to get Rs 2,100 per quintal in March.
"Also, the yield has come down from 28-30 quintals per acre to only 20-23 quintals presently. Though 25 kg rice is being priced anywhere between Rs 1,250 and Rs 1,300 in the retail market, what farmers are being paid per quintal paddy is not proportional," Reddy added.
Under the ayacut, tenant farmers constitute 40 per cent of the farmers, who lease lands for `35,000 per acre for two seasons annually. There are also tenant farmers who promise to pay the landlords the amount equivalent to 12-14 bags of paddy in the present Rabi season, after selling their produce. Getting the right price is paramount to their survival.
G Srinivas, president of Miryalaguda Rice Millers Association, told Express that unlike the requirement of 17 per cent moisture which is necessary to sell at paddy procurement centres of the State government, in the rice mills there is flexibility of selling paddy with 25 per cent to 27 per cent moisture.
As the mills would dry them after procuring, he said that though farmers may be getting Rs 1,900 per quintal, considering the weight lost after drying the paddy at the mills, the price they get would be equivalent to Rs 2,200 per quintal ultimately.