The Telangana government is asking the Centre to buy more than 90 per cent of its stock of parboiled rice at Minimum Support Price, some of which is also from the last Rabi season
On April 11th, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)-led government brought their protest against the Centre’s ‘discriminatory’ paddy procurement policy to New Delhi.
The Telangana government is asking the Centre to buy more than 90 per cent of its stock of parboiled rice at Minimum Support Price, some of which is also from the last Rabi season. Over six million farmers are likely to get affected if this doesn’t happen.
But what is parboiled rice and why is it important? Parboiled rice, as the name suggests, is rice that has been partially boiled or cooked. It includes a hydrothermal processing of rice paddy before milling.
At the end of the process, you get whole grains which are separated and resistant to breakage. Parboiling rice is an economical way to not only improve storage capacity (since it is resistant to weevils) of the grain but also increase nutritional value.
It contains greater amounts of B-vitamins, calcium, potassium, iron and free amino acids as compared to raw rice. This variety of rice is widely consumed in south and southeast Asia, especially in countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia and India, where the southern states produce and consume more of it.
Even though Telangana does not consume parboiled rice extensively, they produce large quantities during the Rabi Season for states that are deficit in production. But in the last few years, production in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand has increased, resulting in less movement in these states.
But the Centre claims that since the demand is low, it would be a waste to buy excess quantities. The current stock is enough to meet demand for two years. The Central government has made it clear that it intends to procure mostly raw rice from Telangana according to national demands.
The chief minister claims that the central government had asked farmers to shift from paddy in the Rabi season and promised to procure the entire quantity.
In 2020-21, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) procured 25.62 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of parboiled rice from Telangana, although the quantity was higher in 2019-20 at 44.71 LMT. The standard procedure of procurement is that the FCI has an agreement with every state.
But Telangana is a decentralised procurement state where the state procures and mills rice for the public distribution system. It keeps the quantities required and transfers the excess to FCI. But the FCI has an option of specifying how procurement will take place under the decentralised model to meet the needs of the entire country.
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