NEW DELHI: Amid a decline in paddy acreage in the current season so far and growing demand for Indian food grains internationally given the geopolitical situation, the Center has changed tactic Tuesday and urged states to boost paddy planting.
Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal made this request to all state food ministers at a conference where his department also made a presentation urging rice Surplus states to diversify crops from paddy and wheat to other crops such as pulses and edible oil. The minister said, “So far, paddy plantings are 16% lower than the normal level nationally. I ask you to talk to your ministers of agriculture to increase rice plantings compared to last year.
However, he said people should not do this at the cost of sowing edible pulses and oilseeds. “If you’re converting an area of rice or wheat into pulses, oilseeds or millet, that’s welcome. But if not, make sure production and productivity are high,” he said, responding to a comment from a UP government official.
The minister said there were sufficient stocks of rice with the government, but there was strong international demand. “So the more our farmers produce, the more they will get a good price on the international market. This will help increase exports. I am also Minister of Commerce. So I also have to continue to increase exports,” he said. The minister added that if necessary, the government would also increase purchases.
Goyal also called on states to increase wheat acreage. Earlier in a presentation, the ministry said most states are now buying paddy and many deficit states have gone into surplus. “Thus, the demand for Central pool stocks are decreasing year after year. Due to less demand from states, Central Pool inventories are increasing and it will become difficult to evacuate godowns in surplus states in the coming years. Thus, surplus states are required to diversify crops from paddy to other crops (legumes, edible oil, etc.) for the sustainable development of agriculture,” the ministry had said in the presentation.
Government data shows 10 states had a rice surplus in 2020-21.