Hyderabad: With 1.3 cr tonnes production, Telangana on its way to becoming a rice bowl. Telangana is on way to emerge as the rice bowl of India with the rice production reaching 1.3 crore tonnes during 2019-20.
With completion of new irrigation projects and increase in land under irrigation, the production increased by more than 20 per cent over the previous year.
Telangana, which grows rice in about 14.19 lakh hectares, saw huge improvement in production ever since it was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.
The rice production, which stood at 29.6 lakh tonnes in 2015-16, rose to 51.7 lakh tonnes in 2016-17 and to 62.5 lakh tonnes in 2017-18.
India’s youngest state also accounted for about 63 per cent of Food Corporation of India’s (FCI) total paddy procurement across the country till date.
According to a report by the Federation of Telangana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FTC), the state recorded a big jump in rice production, mainly due to the fact that more than 60 lakh acres of additional land were brought under irrigation.
This was possible with the completion of many major and minor irrigation projects such as the Kaleshwaram project, the Devadula Project, and the revival of tanks under Mission Kakatiya.
In a report titled as ‘Rice exports from Telangana: Opportunities and way forward’ the industry body said availability of water coupled with 24X7 free power supply to farmers contributed to substantial improvement in productivity and production of food grains and pulses.
Earlier, the Telangana State Civil Supplies Corporation had said that the state set new records with 47 lakh tonnes procurement in Vaanakalam (Kharif crop) and 65 lakh tonnes in Yasangi (Rabi crop) during 2019-20.
“Within six years of the formation of the state, a record 367 percent increase was witnessed in the procurement of paddy. Compared to the last Yasangi, procurement this year increased by 76 percent,” the corporation said.
Considering the record paddy production, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao recently directed the officials to construct an additional 40 lakh tonnes capacity warehouses and form 2,500 farmer groups.
He noted as the government has taken on top priority construction of irrigation projects, in the days to come about 1,300 TMC (thousand million cubics) feet of Godavari and Krishna waters would be utilized. Availability of water for irrigation improved due to the revival of tanks under Mission Kakatiya and 24-hour free power supply.
“Under projects, tanks and borewells, there is a possibility of having two crops in 1.45 crore acres and three crops in 10 lakh acres. Then Telangana state will become the rice bowl of India. The yield will be doubled in the years to come,” he had said.
The FTCCI report, however, flagged the issues in increasing rice exports from Telangana. It noted that despite the high level of rice production, when it comes to exports, the state’s figures are negligible compared to other states.
The report identified high transportation cost for exporters, high levels of pesticide residue in rice produced here, lack of proper warehousing facilities, and the shift in the cultivation of paddy variety from long-grain to short grain as the main reasons for low exports from the state.
Telangana, which exported 10,425 tonnes during 2019-20, accounted for just 0.21 per cent of the total exports of 5.08 million tonnes at the national level. Andhra Pradesh, during the same period, exported 16.9 lakh tonnes, which is 33.6 percent of the total exports.
Telangana is encouraging cultivators to shift from long-grain paddy variety to short-grain paddy variety named as ‘Telangana Sona’ to increase the fine variety rice production. However, exporters feel that only long grain rice has demand in the international market, and shifting to a short-grain variety may affect the exports adversely, the report pointed out.
It suggested developing export zones in the state for growing specific varieties of non-basmati and basmati varieties of the crop. According to the industry body, Egypt, Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are the potential markets.
Pointing out that the state has about 2,000 rice mills, it called for modernizing them by giving some incentives.
It underlined the need to ensure modern milling capacity, better testing, storage and handling infrastructure to effectively market to other countries and also to provide better income to farmers.