Hyderabad: Rice production in Andhra Pradesh since 2014 has seen a 50 percent drop compared to its level in 2009. The state, which was once known as a 'rice bowl', today buys the grains from Bihar and Odisha.
Random inspections at various check posts on the borders of Andhra Pradesh have revealed that an average 50 truckload of rice (20 metric tons in each truck) is reaching Vijayawada, East and West Godavari districts. A wholesale rice trader said this has become a regular practice since 2014.
Rice production in AP has come down drastically in the last decade, according to a report by Statista Global Consumer Survey (SGCS) published in September 2019. In 2009, rice production in the combined state of Andhra Pradesh was 14.24 million metric tons. In 2010, it was 10.54 mmt, and in 2011, it was 14.42 mmt.
From the next year – 2012 – onwards, rice production headed south and never recovered till 2017, according to the SGCS survey. In 2012, it was 7.75 mmt, the figure was 6.86 mmt in 2013, in 2014, it was 6.97 mmt, in 2015, it was 7.23 mmt, in 2016, it was 7.49 mmt, and in 2017, it was 7.45 mmt, said the report.
Ground reports indicate that AP buys 1,000 metric tons of ‘steam rice’ from Bihar and Odisha. Now, the big question is where this rice is going.
The state initiated the Kharif paddy purchase just a couple of days ago, according to the Civil Supplies department. Around 2,000 purchase centres have been set up in all the 13 districts, and so far, 15.02 lakh metric tons of rice has been procured from 1,451 centres, and 1.51 lakh farmers have received Rs 2,368 crore from these purchase centres. Of the procured rice, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has taken 1,600 metric tons, while the Civil Supplies department was given 2.15 lakh tons.
Technical experts so far have verified the quality of the paddy/rice at the purchase centres in Krishna, Guntur, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, East and West Godavari districts. While the state government has made elaborate arrangements to ensure that farmers get the minimum support price for their produce, few corporate rice millers have started buying steam rice from Bihar and some parts of Odisha, according to the information collected from wholesale traders and truck owners.
Asked about the purpose of getting rice and paddy from Bihar, Odisha and from few parts of West Bengal, a corporate rice mill owner said that the 'steam rice' would be mixed with the rice meant for the public distribution system.