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Centre Asks Telangana to Promote Production of Fortified Rice & Ricebran Oil

The Union government has asked Telangana to promote establishment of ricebran oil industry to tide over the crisis, as the recent controversy over parboiled rice procurement is set to trigger a political storm in the State.The Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Food has asked the State to develop capacities for manufacture of fortified rice kernels (FRK), besides setting up facilities to blend the FRKs with the regular rice.

Ayushi Raina
Rice and Oil on Table
Rice and Oil on Table

As a result of the current dispute over parboiled rice procurement, the Union government has asked Telangana to encourage the production of a ricebran oil industry in order to help the state get through the problem. 

The Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Food has requested that the state create capacity for the production of fortified rice kernels (FRK) as well as facilities to blend FRKs with conventional rice. 

"The State government must make fortified rice more readily available to meet the needs of the State and the Food Corporation of India (FCI)," the Ministry stated. The Ministry insisted that the State give it in writing that it would not propose to sell parboiled rice to the FCI again since it authorised a one-time purchase from last year's output. "If they go with fortification, it will alleviate the issue and make procurement easier," an FCI executive stated. 

Rice millers, on the other hand, argued that building capacity for fortified rice wouldn't happen overnight and would need extra expenditures and skill sets. Farmers and Opposition parties are urging the State government to purchase rabi paddy after the FCI refused to acquire it from the state. 

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao warned farmers not to raise paddy during the rabi season since there would be no buyers, and demanded that the Centre Union Government purchase the crop. 

Solutions 

Farmers should be able to send their harvest directly to the mills, according to the Federation of South India Rice Millers' Associations, in order to save money and time. 

"The government can continue to acquire through the traditional routes of Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies and self-help groups. If they allow us to take paddy directly from farmers, it would increase competitiveness," Federation President Thudi Devender Reddy said. He also wants the government to create a direct benefit system in the public distribution system, where money is deposited directly into beneficiaries' accounts. "It would assure a better demand-supply situation in the market if it is done," he added. 

In order to get over the crisis, the Federation also wanted the government to increase rice exports. "There is a pricing discrepancy between the procurement and export prices. While procurement costs have increased by 400 per quintal in the previous seven years, the export price has decreased by 200 to around 2,400," said Satyanarayana, a rice miller. 

"The government should compensate the millers for the difference in order to encourage them to export rice." Instead than holding product in godowns for years and then selling it at a loss, the government should consider exporting rice, according to another miller. 

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