The Union government stating that they will not purchase paddy from Telangana has farmers in the state now staring at an uncertain future. On Friday, November 26, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Piyush Goyal made it clear that the Union government will not purchase paddy from Telangana or declare the annual paddy procurement target, which was the two primary demands raised by Telangana's delegation of ministers.
“We do not know what to do. There seems no hope, and we do not know whom we should protest against. Our worry is whether the state government will at least purchase the produce from the Kharif season,” lamented K Narayana, a farmer leader from the Rythu Aikya Vedika.
The delegation of ministers from Telangana had met the Union Minister in New Delhi anticipating a positive response. However, the talks failed, following which Agriculture Minister Niranjan Reddy expressed his disappointment. “The Centre (Union government) already gave a letter stating that it will procure 40 lakh tonnes of Kharif rice. We requested the Union Minister to increase this target. But he did not give any concrete assurance. The attitude of the Centre is very painful and disappointing,” Niranjan Reddy had said.
Niranjan Reddy said that if the Union government had given the annual paddy procurement target, they would be able to communicate it with the farmers in the state and prepare them. The Union government, however, failed to give these details, he said.
Piyush Goyal also said that he will not be able to give any assurance on the enhancement of procurement of paddy from the Kharif season.
“Hundreds of farmers across the state have produced paddy. Now, what will happen to it? The rice millers are also exploiting the situation and causing us losses,” Narayana said.
Telangana has produced 10.6 million tonnes of paddy during the Rabi season. The Food Corporation of India has refused to purchase more than 6 million tonnes of paddy from the state. The surplus production of paddy has affected farmers severely, who are queuing up at procurement centres demanding the state government purchase the remaining stock.
In protest, the Congress party launched a two-day agitation on Saturday, November 27 at Dharna Chowk, Hyderabad. Telangana Congress president Revanth Reddy blamed Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao for the present crisis and said that he has caused the disaster. Revanth alleged that KCR is taking revenge on the farmers who defied his appeal last year and went ahead with paddy cultivation.
Revanth alleged that both the TRS and BJP were in cahoots. “The Telangana delegation complained about the Telangana BJP urging farmers to produce paddy, for which the Union Minister said that they will not make such statements further. What do you understand from this? That both TRS and BJP clearly want to kill paddy farmers.”
On Friday, a protest was led by the Rythu Aikya Vedika in Jagtial district, in which at least 10,000 farmers had participated. The farmers had taken out a rally to the District Collector’s office demanding the government procure paddy and maize which were getting damaged due to the rains. Despite hours of protest, the District Collector did not meet the farmers or give them any assurance.
Meanwhile, on Friday, November 26, the police stopped paddy trucks coming from Andhra Pradesh at the Gadwal border and sent them back, as additional paddy coming from the neighbouring state would further accentuate the crisis.