Tandur: It's been almost a year now since a local variety of tur dal (red gram) grown in the Tandur assembly segment, received the geographical indication (GI) tag. However, many farmers are still unaware of its significance, leaving aside taking advantage of it in the absence of a board which the ruling BRS (then TRS) promised during the 2014 poll campaign.
The famous 'Tandur red gram' is the 16th GI product from Telangana.
The Geographical Indication tag was granted in December 2022 to the Yalal Farmers Producers Company Ltd, which had applied for 'Tandur red gram' with the support of Prof. Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University (PJTSAU). It is the first agricultural commodity in the state to get the GI tag.
GI tag is a status given to a product belonging exclusively to a particular area. The quality, reputation and any other characteristics of that particular product is generally attributed to the geographical origin of the product.
Tandur assembly segment, located 115 km from Hyderabad, has four mandals -- Tandur, Peddemul, Basheerabad and Yalal -- and this special tur dal, also called arhar dal, is grown in all these four mandals on about 1 lakh acres with an average annual production of four lakh quintal.
Asked about the GI tag, Hanmantu Reddy (53) -- a farmer from Basheerabad mandal -- said, "I am not aware of it. I grow tur dal on 25 acres in Jivangi village. Even my fellow farmers do not know. I sold the last crop at Rs 8,100 per quintal."
Another farmer from Kotlapur village in Tandur mandal, Navin Chander Reddy (40), said he grows tur dal in 40 acres but is not aware that the region's tur dal has got the GI tag and its significance. "I know a board was promised and not yet been established."
Post-grant of the GI for the Tandur red gram, PJTSAU's Agricultural Research Station Head Sudha Rani said the prices of tur dal in Tandur have risen sharply by 39 per cent to Rs 10,449 per quintal in October from Rs 7,519 per quintal in February this year.
The specialty of the Tandur red gram is that it "tastes better, cooks faster and has a longer shelf life of cooked dal" as it is grown in the fertile deep black soil of this region which has huge deposits of Attapulgite clay mineral along with huge limestone deposits, she told PTI.
Setting up of a Red Gram Board, the proposal of which is pending before the government, will open more avenues for the farmers as the data of GI registered growers will be collected, branding and marketing will be promoted, she said, and added that misuse of the GI tagged Tandur Red gram can also be prevented.
Principal Scientist C Sudhakar at the Agricultural Research Station, who facilitated the GI registration process for the FPO, said the acreage will increase in the coming year as farmers will fetch a premium rate of Rs 300-500 per quintal for the GI tagged tur dal grown in the Tandur region.
He said the registration of tur dal growers for GI registration has started. "Now the number of farmers is in the 100s only, but the target is to register at least 1,000 farmers from each mandal." However, many farmers and traders in the region lack awareness about the GI tag's significance and feel the current price rise in tur dal was also due to the tight supply of the crop owing to poor rainfall in the region.
"Due to uncertain weather, the production of tur dal is coming down. Traders are getting a premium rate of Rs 400-500 per quintal because of the GI tag as compared to Maharashtra and Karnataka markets. This awareness is not there among farmers. Support through setting up a Board is the need of the hour," trader and miller of tur dal Katkam Veerender said.
Since returns from tur dal and cotton are almost the same, many farmers are shifting to cotton in the Tandur region and the government should create mass awareness about the importance of the GI tag among farmers, he added.
M Narsimalu of a non-profit body SHARE, which promoted Yalal Farmers Producer Company with the support of NABARD, said, "Awareness is more in Yalal mandal when compared to the three other mandals. More efforts need to be put in and I hope the setting up of a Board will provide a solution to this problem."
As the electioneering has picked up momentum, the farmers and traders recall the promise Chief Minister K Chandrashekar made in the 2014 poll campaign and hope Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) candidate Rohit Reddy will push the proposal effectively if he wins for the second time from the Tandur assembly segment.
"We have tried our best to get the red gram board. Sanctioning a red gram board is the Central subject, not the state subject. The proposal and project report has been submitted to the Centre," Rohit Reddy said.
He alleged that the BJP government in the Centre is not supporting Telangana and showing partiality when compared to other states.
According to him, it was his efforts that got the GI for red gram.
"Definitely my efforts to get a board will be on. I hope the next government will try to get the board. If not board as alternatively, I am trying for a red gram research centre, which would be a real help for our farmers," Reddy said.
Reddy is contesting for the second time and is pitted against Congress' B Manohar Reddy in a neck-to-neck fight in the assembly poll scheduled for voting on November 30.
The Tandur assembly constituency has about 2.36 lakh eligible voters.