A paddy processing unit in Andhra’s Siddipet
HYDERABAD: Kasaboina Chinnaiah, a marginal farmer in Telangana’s Jagtial district, is pumped up after a bumper harvest. He reaped 38 quintals of paddy from his one-acre plot as against 30 quintals in most years. “I hope my children can go to a good school now and take up a profession some day, if the yield remains this high,” he said.
Like Chinnaiah, farmers across Telangana have reaped rich harvests in the Yasangi or Rabi season this year after following the state government’s advice on what to grow when. Under Telangana’s new agriculture policy, farmers who deviate from the advice don’t get the benefits of schemes like Rythu Bandhu (input subsidy) and minimum support price.
Rahim Pasha of Panchagam village in Sangareddy district saw his cotton harvest increase from 10 quintals to 14 quintals despite not using pesticides and fertilisers on the advice of the local agriculture extension officer. “I had doubts as I was going for organic cotton for the first time,” he said, “but I saved Rs 8,000 per acre on costs.” Pasha sold his cotton for almost Rs 7 lakh, which he wants to use for his daughter’s studies and to build a new house.
Bonala Rajesham of Kamanpur village said he’s got the first “good crop” of his life this year. The 53-year-old used to grow red gram on his unirrigated field. “But thanks to the Kaleshwaram project, my village tank is full and I could cultivate paddy in the Rabi season.” He reaped 66 quintals from his two acres.
With the impressive growth in yields, Telangana now claims to be transforming into the rice bowl of India. Food Corporation of India (FCI) chairman and managing director DV Prasad told TOI they have procured 52 lakh tonnes of paddy from Telangana alone, which is more than half of the national target of 91 lakh tonnes.
The state is also making its mark as a producer of paddy seed. “About 85% of our village’s paddy is of a fine variety that farmers in MP, Haryana, Bengal and Bihar use as seed,” said Mahipal Reddy, a farmer in Anksapur village in Nizamabad district. The seed crop sells at a premium over the state’s minimum support price for paddy.
The state’s harvests have nearly doubled in a year. Paddy production is up 93%, maize 95%, and cotton 74%, said Telangana planning department director G Dayanand. Even CM K Chandrasekhar Rao recently joked: “I would have danced after seeing this yield, but due to the pandemic, I have restrained mysel