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Glut in paddy drives growers to play a waiting game

S. Rajendran

Relieve growers' anxiety by permitting export of rice, says farmers' federation


Farmers are not happy with the low MSP of paddy

Yield: 3.5 million tonnes; demand: 1 million tonnes


— Photo: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

C. Narasimhappa.

Bangalore: Paddy procurement in Karnataka, in progress for nearly ten days, has not really picked up as most growers have retained their produce in the hope that prices will surge in the days to come. The low minimum support price for paddy fixed by the Union Government at Rs. 1,000 a quintal for the common variety and Rs. 1,030 for good quality, with the State Government adding an incentive of Rs. 100 a quintal, is another reason for sluggish procurement.

The support price has not cheered farmers, as good quality rice prices rule between Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,000 a quintal in the retail market, and growers net a mere Rs. 600 a quintal (A quintal of paddy produces around 60 kg of rice). The poor response at the procurement centres suggest that farmers have decided to play a waiting game, particularly those who have the resources, according to market analysts.

The chief paddy growing areas in the State are in the districts of Davangere, Koppal, Raichur and Bellary, known to be the home of the Sona Masuri variety. The other districts where paddy is grown are Mysore, Mandya, Chamarajanagar and Shimoga. The summer crop of paddy is normally grown in the Raichur-Bhadra belt and this season's yield is roughly estimated at 3.5 million tonnes while the local demand is for just about one million tonnes.

The general secretary of the Karnataka unit of the Farmers' Federation of India, C. Narasimhappa, told The Hindu that with a glut in paddy in the State, and agricultural input costs ruling high, export of rice at least for a limited period, could be a bonanza for paddy growers who have harvested a good crop thanks to adequate rainfall, availability of water from reservoirs and absence of pest attacks.

Sought-after variety

Mr. Narasimhappa said the Sona Masuri variety grown in the Bellary-Raichur-Bhadra region is of a very high quality and is sought after in the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Japan. “As per market reports, after the Thai and Basmati varieties of rice, it is Sona Masuri that is favoured. Why not permit exports in a season of surplus? We have been knocking at the doors of successive governments at the Centre for long but there has been no response.”

If Tamil Nadu and Kerala are by and large self-sufficient in rice, Andhra Pradesh has a surplus production similar to that of Karnataka. “The two States could jointly campaign for export permission. The Food Corporation of India alone cannot be a purchaser of high quality rice, and the MSP fixed by the government is very low,” he said.

Incidentally, the present procurement by the Union Government is only until August 31. The next paddy crop (kharif) will be in the market in the next few months.

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