Punjab expects profitable basmati crop this kharif season. The price of Indian basmati already has touched $136 (`8,500) a quintal in the international market, lifting the rate in the state as well.
In just 15 days into the harvest season, premium basmati is being lifted for `3,500 a quintal. Last year, the price was about `2,200.
Basmati exporters have, so far, bought about 1-lakh tonnes of the product in the Fazilka area of the Malwa region, and Amritsar and Tarn Taran areas of the Majha belt of Punjab.
A yield of 20 to 22 quintals is expected from each acre and basmati is grown over 5.6-lakh hectares (13.44-lakh acres). Punjab exports it to 60 countries, including markets in the middle-east, Europe, Russia, Iran, and biggest importer Iraq.
"The season had a very good start," All-India Rice Exporters Association vice-president Arvinder Singh has said. "Last year, the international price of Indian basmati was $103 (`6,440) and this season has jumped 30%," he added, happy that Punjab's basmati was competing worldwide and had built a reputation as best grain because of its aroma and length.
Figures from Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) suggest that Punjab contributed 33% to total basmati exports from the country in the previous kharif season and will up this figure now. APEDA helps export food grains and other agricultural products.
The 1509 PUSA variety of basmati introduced from the current season had shown better results than the 1121 variety, said Punjab director of agriculture Mangal Singh Sandhu. "Of the total basmati area in Punjab, 1509 was over 40%. The variety gives 10 to 15% more yield than 1121 is not as delicate," he added.
The 1509 variety takes 25 days less to mature and Punjab is expected to adopt basmati in big way, as the demand of coarse paddy variety for the national pool is reducing since consumer states such as Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have become producers.
"Besides, 50% less water consumption and low input cost are motivating farmers," said Sandhu.