Basmati glut ahead, state looks to Haryana for lifting

  • Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Sep 15, 2014 10:38 IST

In the current kharif marketing season, Punjab depends on neighbour Haryana for its crop diversification plan. The SAD-BJP government is inviting traders from Haryana to procure its basmati crop as the production is surpassing calculations this season – the highest ever, double in comparison to the previous season — even as Punjab lacks the infrastructure to handle such a large quantity.

Figures gathered from various sources says the basmati variety of paddy was sown over 6.5 lakh hectares in the state, double the area of previous season, and thus about 25% of the total area (28 lakh hectares) under paddy cultivation. Production of 40 lakh tonnes of basmati is expected this season, which is 30% of the total estimated paddy production in Punjab.

“It is going to be tough season, as unprecedented production of basmati is expected this season, so we are left with no option but to take help from traders in Haryana,” said Punjab agriculture minister Tota Singh. Reportedly a meeting with Haryana’s traders is fixed for Wednesday to work out modalities. The efforts, as sources in the agriculture department said, would be to maintain prices of basmati at Rs 4,000 a quintal.

Punjab is also working out a formula to attract traders by giving them exemption from the rural development fund and market fee (2% each).

Also, as per information gathered by the department, Haryana has better arrangements for milling of basmati as it grows more basmati than Punjab. “But this time basmati production is going to be almost the same in both the states,” said an official.

As the early-sown crop has already started arriving in the Fazilka and some other areas, Punjab State Farmers’ Commission has also written to the state government to take corrective steps and make arrangements for lifting of basmati crop. “In the absence of any system of procure the crop, it is going to be a glut-like situation,” commission consultant PS Rangi had pointed out.

In Jalalabad, Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Muktsar and Sirhind, basmati cultivation has touched 90% of total area under paddy.

The state faces a challenge also because basmati requires a sophisticated system to mill.

The total arrival of basmati is expected to touch worth Rs 12,000 crore, while as per an estimate Punjab has capacity to spend Rs 5,500 crore pumped in by commission agents and other traders.

Report on lossto cotton

The Punjab government would compile a report on the loss to cotton crop in a week. Due to heavy rains last week, in the cotton belt the crop has suffered heavy damage, especially in Malout and Lambi.

“On the basis of the report, we will seek compensation from the Centre,” said agriculture minister Tota Singh.

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