September 11, 2021 12:04:52 pm
Early variety of Basmati rice, PUSA 1509, has arrived in grain markets of Punjab and farmers are getting comparatively better prices during the opening days as compared to last year when the prices crashed by Rs 600 to Rs 1,000 per quintal.
Amritsar and Tarn Taran markets, where this variety reaches first, arrival of the crop started a few days back and farmers are getting prices between Rs 2,350 to 2,891 per quintal against Rs 1,651 to Rs 2,200 per quintal last year.
Gurinder Singh Aujla of village Bhalojala in Tarn Taran district said this time the rate is better than last year. “I am happy with the prevailing rate of PUSA 1509 this year but there is a high fluctuation in basmati rates as it is all controlled by the private players as one year the rates are up and next year rates are down. Last year, I had sown PUSA 1509 on 10 acres and met heavy losses, this year I reduced the area of crop to four acre and now rates are good,” he said, adding that had the crop been was under Minimum Support Price (MSP) regime farmers would have not met such huge losses due to unpredictable rates of it.
“Last year the rate of the basmati in the international market was one of the highest but still farmers were getting one of the lowest prices ever. There was no reason for this. There is a need to plug these gaps by making a policy in this regard,” he added.
The farmer said that in 2019 also rates were between Rs 2,500 to 2,700 per quintal and making base of that last year farmers increased area under 1509 but met heavy losses due to crashing of prices.
“This is why farmers are protesting inn Delhi for making MSP legal for all the crops as legality of MSP for all crops will lead to diversification of all the crops,” he said.
Another farmer Gurpreet Singh from Tarn Taran said he had sold his crop at the rate of Rs 2,400 per quintal against Rs 1,700-1,800 last year.
“Farmer’s condition cannot be improved when there is no organised system for getting remunerative prices for his crop,” he said.
Other farmers too said that due to heavy rain on Friday, harvesting of 1509 variety may be delayed as the moisture content would be heavy.
Punjab’s Basmati is mainly exported and it contributes more than 40 per cent of the total export of Basmati worth Rs 34,000 crores per annum.
In Punjab 1509 early varieties and 1121, 1718 late varieties of Basmati are sown on a total 4-5 lakh hectares. 1509 variety is sown on around 40 per cent of the total area under basmati.
Ashok Sethi, Director, Punjab Rice Millers and Exporters Association told The Indian Express that the rate of PUSA 1509 basmati is very good this year because of which it is getting higher prices for farmers as well. He added that exporters are facing huge inconvenience because of the exorbitant increase in freight charges by more than 50 per cent and finding it hard to meet the export commitments because of the scarcity of the containers.
“Government should intervene so that our export orders can be shipped timely and at reasonable freight,” he said.
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