The entire rice mill industry has been in doldrums due to drastic reduction in paddy production over the last couple of years, enormous increase in input costs and total ban on levy paddy by the government to millers.According to a study, over 200 mills out of 320 in the district have closed since January, and the rest are also not in a sound financial position. Many of them have been in the red and are likely to stop milling any time soon, said industry sources. The State lost its monopoly in rice production, market and export, and slowly other States took its position. Paddy production and milling of rice tremendously improved in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka, and they are able to trade the product at competitive prices. Millers in Telangana, consisting of more than 2,500 mills, are unable to compete with them in terms of market price.
District Rice Millers’ Association president Dayanand Gupta said that the custom milling is not at all beneficial, hence millers have stopped it. Millers need to give 67 kilogramme rice to the government for quintal of raw paddy, which is given to them by procuring it from farmers. “We keep incurring excessive losses as we cannot get the same amount of rice if the paddy is milled,” he said. Since other States where the paddy is being produced have not bothered to pay minimum support price (MSP) to farmers, and the government here strictly following the payment of MSP, the production costs are higher, incapacitating millers to compete with others.
Every year, about 30,000 workers from Bihar used to come to the district to work at rice mills. They are not coming here now as they have plenty of work in their State. Mr. Gupta said that the 100 per cent lifting of levy to millers since October gave a blow to the industry. Till last year, the government used to collect 25 per cent levy and allowed millers to trade 75 per cent rice in the market. The sickness in the industry rendered hundreds of families unemployed, he said. “We have no income from by-products and of late the production costs have become unbearable. Unless the government comes to our rescue, our industry cannot survive,” the association representatives said.