Telangana paddy farmers urged to grow alternate crops

Hyderabad: With the Centre deciding not to procure parboiled rice from Telangana, state Agriculture Minister S. Niranjan Reddy on Thursday appealed to farmers not to cultivate paddy this Rabi season and go for alternate crops.

In an open letter to farmers, he urged them to understand the “anti-farmer” and “anti-agriculture” policies of the Centre and cultivate alternative crops having demand in the market like pulses and oil seeds.

Reddy alleged that Central ministers Piyush Goyal and Narendra Singh Tomar were creating confusion among Telangana farmers with their contradictory statements.

He also alleged that the Centre has not lifted the rice procured last year from warehouses in the state.

Slamming the Centre for playing double game on paddy procurement, he said that on one hand, Union Food and Public Distribution Minister Piyush Goyal made it clear that the Centre will not procure parboiled rice from Telangana while on the other, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told Parliament in reply to a question that no restrictions were imposed on paddy cultivation in Telangana.

He also alleged that the state BJP leaders were misleading the farmers by asking them to grow paddy.

Reddy said the Centre which offer several incentives to corporate in various sectors and waive off their loans of lakhs of crores, is indifferent to the agriculture sector which is crucial for the food security.

He said barring few lands which are suitable only for paddy cultivation, diverse crops can be cultivated on the rest of the land.

He pointed out that for the first time in the country, the Telangana government has formed market research and analysis which before every crop season analyses which crops should be cultivated so that farmers are benefitted and makes suggestions accordingly. Agriculture extension officers through rythu vedikas have been trying to convince farmers on the need to grow cultivate other crops.

He noted that paddy cultivation is easy and the farmers face the problem of labour availability for cultivating other crops. He said keeping this in view for six years Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had been demanding the Centre to link rural employment guarantee scheme with agriculture but the Centre remained unmoved.

Stating that Telangana farmers had been suffering for 60 years, he said after formation of Telangana state, the TRS government provided irrigation facility, ensured round the clock supply of electricity, and took up schemes like Rytu Bandhu and Rytu Beema.

He pointed out that at the time of formation of Telangana in 2014, the state had 1.31 crore acres of cultivable land for both the crop season in a year. The area under cultivation rose to 2.15 crore acres in 2020-21.

Paddy cultivation in 2014-15 was on the total area of 34.96 lakh acres (both the seasons) but the area under paddy cultivation grew by 198.15 per cent to reach 104.23 lakh acres in 2020-21. Paddy production, which was only 68.17 lakh tonnes in 2014-15, has gone up to about 3 crore tonnes in 2020-21, he added.