Hyderabad: The Central government continues to be evasive to the State government’s demand for clarity on paddy procurement. Though the TRS MPs have been demanding clarity on the procurement policy from the Centre in Parliament, the latter is yet to come up with any convincing reply. For the first time, however, the Centre went on record to press the States for crop diversification which is in sharp contrast to the statements made by Telangana BJP leaders who have been urging farmers to cultivate paddy during Yasangi.
In response to questions posed by the TRS MPs in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, the Centre failed to give a straight response. On the extent of paddy procurement to be made from Telangana, Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti stated that rice procurement for Vaankalam from the State was fixed at 40 lakh tonnes. In the wake of Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union Minister said the government would consider increasing procurement on the basis of estimated production, marketable surplus and agricultural crop pattern. But no clear assurance was given in this regard.
The target set for paddy (in terms of rice) procurement by the Union government for the central pool during Kharif 2021-22 is 521.89 lakh tonnes. “The target for Rabi crop would be decided before the onset of Rabi season,” the Union Minister declared. Ironically, Union Food and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal as well as the officials concerned are yet to reveal the Rabi targets sought by the Telangana government, even though it has been a month since the Rabi season commenced in the State.
Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti stated that during Kharif Marketing Season 2O2O-21, a record 61.87 lakh tonnes of rice was procured by the State government and its agencies against the target of 55 lakh tonnes of rice fixed by the Centre. Further, the surplus rice offered by the State government was accepted by the FCI under central pool stock. In response to another question on procurement policy, the Union Minister claimed that a transparent and uniform policy for procurement of rice/paddy by government agencies exists across the country. She went on to claim that there was no confusion among States regarding rice procurement policy of the Union government. In sharp contrary, she stated that the procurement in a State depends on multiple factors and it varies from State to State depending upon actual marketable surplus quantity after reducing the local consumption.
For the first time, the Union government had admitted on record that all the States have been advised to encourage farmers for crop diversification. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti stated that the Minimum Support Price was being implemented for pulses, oilseeds and millets to encourage and incentivise farmers to maximise sowing of such crops and to get remunerative prices.