Union Minister Piyush Goyal rules out procurement of parboiled rice to Telangana ministerial delegation

Published : November 28, 2021 20:33 IST

Singireddy Niranjan Reddy, Telangana Agriculture Minister. Photo: Nagara Gopal

Telangana’s Minister for Agriculture, Singireddy Niranjan Reddy, said "the Government of India is playing with the lives of Telangana’s farmers".

Union Minister for Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal has clarified to Telangana that the Centre would not procure any parboiled rice in the coming rabi season at any cost. The Centre would, however, procure paddy grown in Telangana in the kharif season as per the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the State government and the Food Corporation of India (FCI). Meanwhile, one more farmer is said to have died at a government paddy procurement centre in Telangana while waiting for his crop to be procured.

Telangana’s Minister for Agriculture, Singireddy Niranjan Reddy, said "the Government of India is playing with the lives of Telangana’s farmers". Niranjan Reddy who, along with his Cabinet colleagues Errabelli Dayakar Rao and Ch Malla Reddy, had a late-night meeting with Piyush Goyal in New Delhi on November 26, added that the Union Minister was not prepared to give any assurance on enhancing the quantum of paddy procurement in the kharif season.

Speaking to Frontline, Niranjan Reddy said: "The Centre will procure 40 lakh tonnes of rice from Telangana that is grown in the kharif season. The Union Minister informed us that any enhancement in the quantity will be assessed in the future. The Union Minister also made it clear that the Centre will henceforth not procure parboiled rice from anywhere in the country." On the issue of setting annual targets for paddy procurement, Piyush Goyal is said to have pointed out that the agriculture department had struck it down on the grounds that it could not anticipate or predict the amount of paddy that would be grown.

Niranjan Reddy added that the Union Minister informed the Telangana ministerial team that in the wake of the withdrawal of the three farm laws the Prime Minister would, immediately after their annulment in Parliament, be constituting a committee, whose terms of reference would include suggestions on minimum support price, annual targets and diversification and growing of alternative crops. Piyush Goyal, Niranjan Reddy said, expressed his helplessness and inability to do anything when the Telangana delegation pointed out that much time would elapse before this committee was constituted, undertook a study and then came up with recommendations. Said Niranjan Reddy: "He asked us to advise our farmers not to go in for paddy cultivation in the coming rabi season. When we brought to Piyush Goyal’s notice that his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) colleagues in Telangana, including State president Bandi Sanjay Kumar, were asking farmers to sow paddy, Goyal said that the BJP leadership would tell them not to make any such statements on paddy."

According to the Department of Food and Public Distribution, until August 31, 2021, a total of 94.56 lakh tonnes of rice was procured from Telangana during the current Kharif Marketing Season (KMS) 2020-21 that spans from October 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021. (While the kharif, which literally means ‘autumn’ in Arabic, season is from May/June to October in the case of paddy, the KMS includes both the kharif and rabi crops. In other words, the entire year’s crop. The FCI and State Government agencies first procure paddy and then get it custom-milled from rice millers. The rice is then distributed.

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