Paddy no more favoured crop in MP
Crash in prices of Basmati rice and scanty rainfall in certain pockets of the state have led to a sharp decline in paddy cultivation in Madhya Pradesh since last year, a top official said on Tuesday. This could severely dent the state’s agriculture success story.bhopal Updated: Sep 03, 2015 22:10 IST
Crash in prices of Basmati rice and scanty rainfall in certain pockets of the state have led to a sharp decline in paddy cultivation in Madhya Pradesh since last year, a top official said on Tuesday. This could severely dent the state’s agriculture success story.
Paddy cultivation, especially the Basmati variety in Bhopal, Raisen, Sehore, Hoshangabad and Harda districts had contributed to the state recording the highest agricultural growth rates in the country in the last three years.
The state had registered an agricultural growth rate of 24.99% in 2013-14. However, data for 2014-15 are yet to be officially released.
Statistics by the agriculture department showed that as on August 20, the net area under paddy cultivation has gone down from 21.53 lakh hectares in the 2014 kharif season to 19.22 lakh hectares in 2015, translating to nearly 11% less paddy sowing area.
“The crash in Basmati paddy prices from nearly Rs 4,000 per quintal in 2013 to Rs 1,800 in 2014 and the lack of rains in eastern MP has contributed to the decline in paddy sowing, with farmers replacing it with other crops,” said Rajesh Rajora, principal secretary in the agriculture department.
Fall in Basmati prices has been blamed on change in rules in other competing countries that are also exporters of the paddy variety.
Officials said that since Basmati is a largely export-oriented product, prices depend on “how much competitive Indian basmati is in terms of prices in international market”.
Top exporters of Basmati rice have a presence in Madhya Pradesh from where they buy paddy produced in the state. The paddy is milled and the rice is exported to various countries.
The demand for export pushed up prices of Basmati paddy resulting in a large number of farmers shifting to Basmati paddy cultivation from regular kharif crops in the Narmada belt in the last three years.
“Basmati paddy requires high levels of investment in the form of labour, fertilizers and pesticides. With input prices increasing and prices of Basmati declining, farmers were left with no choice but to reduce area under paddy,” said Pervez Khan, a farmer in Bari in Raisen district.
The total area under cultivation in the ongoing kharif season has, however, increased from 122.77 lakh hectares in 2014 to 123.69 lakh hectares in 2015.