HYDERABAD: Notwithstanding the controversy over its procurement, paddy cultivation has picked up for Rabi, especially during the past 10 days. Even by a conservative assessment by the agriculture department, paddy was being cultivated in 4,53,970 acres as of Wednesday, a huge jump from 2,30,516 acres on January 5.
Though the accuracy of this data is debatable, an overall observation on the ground shows that farmers with lands under canal irrigation are all going for paddy once again. As per the data furnished by the department, as of January 5, paddy was being cultivated only in 9 acres across Wanaparthy district. This extent rose to 119 acres as of Wednesday. Quite a few farmers have actively been sowing paddy in their fields and more plan to do so after the Sankranti festival.
According to A Venkateswarlu Goud, a rice miller from Wanaparthy, though there has been a decrease in paddy cultivation as compared to last Rabi, farmers are still cultivating the crop on a large scale. In his native village Gopanpet in Atmakur mandal, paddy was being grown in 600 acres.
He told Express that paddy (RNR variety fine-grain rice) grown in Atmakur, Makthal, Gadwal, Alampur, Wanaparthy, Narayanpet and other areas, is bought by traders who transport it to Karnataka for milling, from where it goes to Tamil Nadu, to be exported. When asked why it couldn’t be exported from Telangana, Goud said that most Telangana rice mills do not have Sortex machines that have the best milling capabilities.
Even in Kharif, of the 50,000 bags of paddy produced in his village, only 14,000 bags went to procurement centres and the rest were sent to Karnataka for milling, said Goud. He, however, said that the price per quintal could go down by Rs 100-Rs 150 as compared to the minimum support price of Rs 1,960 for fine-grain paddy, if harvested in April and could further go down if harvested in May, when splitting of grains during the milling would be more.
Meanwhile, millers claim that ever since fine rice was introduced in the public distribution system, demand for rice in the State has gone down. Though the price of Telangana Sona in the retail market is Rs 34-Rs 35 (for new yield) and Rs 40 (for old yield), the volume of sales has come down, said Ramesh Shetty, president of Wanaparthy Rice Millers Association.
Shetty said that there was no problem with farmers selling paddy in the open market. It may be mentioned here that the State government has left it to the discretion of the farmers to cultivate paddy after the row with the Union government.
Choice left to them, farmers have a field day
The State government has left it to the discretion of the farmers to cultivate paddy. Even in north Telangana, paddy is being cultivated across Karimnagar, Nizamabad, Warangal and other districts this Rabi.