Chandigarh: Area under basmati is set to dip30 per cent in Punjab, on account of low prices fetched by growers and problems faced in sowing of high-yielding 1509 variety last year. Decline in area of premium quality rice will mean area under common varieties and grade-A varieties will go up significantly in the state. Rice exporters have blamed the policies of the government for the plight of growers and dip in area under basmati despite the state authorities emphasising on enhancing area under aromatic varieties of crop as part of crop diversification programme.
“We feel area under basmati crop in Punjab will go down by 25-30 per cent this season,” Punjab Rice Millers and Exporters Association, Director, Ashok Sethi told PTI today. Punjab is expecting basmati area of about 5 lakh hectares in current Kharif season, which is about 35 per cent lower than what the state saw acreage in last sowing season. Area under Basmati in Punjab stood at 7.63 lakh hectares and 8.62 lakh hectares in 2015-16 and 2014-15, respectively, an official of Punjab Agriculture Department said. Punjab’s major basmati growing areas including Amritsar, Gurdaspur have seen sharp dip in sowing of basmati paddy this year.
“Out of the 1.73 lakh hectares of total paddy last year in Gurdaspur district, 60 per cent of area was under basmati. But this year, area under basmati has shrunk to 30 per cent of total sowing area and rest is with other varieties,” said an official of agriculture department in Gurdaspur. In Amritsar, area under basmati went down by 25,000 hectares out of total area of 1.80 lakh hectares.
“Growers have replaced area under basmati 1509 variety with ordinary varieties of paddy after facing problem in its lifting last year,” said Chief Agricultural officer (Amritsar) B S Chhina. Farmers last year felt harassed after PUSA Basmati 1509 variety was not picked up by rice sellers and exporters, citing high broken content which caused its price going even below the minimum support price.
“The main reason behind decline in Basmati crop is lower rates fetched by growers and faulty policies of the government,” said Sethi adding that government “failed” in helping growers on basmati 1509 variety issue. Last fiscal, farmers got Rs 2,000-2,200 per quintal an average for basmati crop including PUSA 1121 which was far lower than what they had earned in corresponding period of 2014-15, he said. With sowing almost complete, area under paddy in Punjab has reached 30.14 lakh hectares as of now which is one of the highest acreage witnessed in the state. (MORE) PTI
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