Basmati acreage, which was earlier expected to dip by 5 per cent in 2010, is likely to remain at the 2009's level as farmers in flood-hit Punjab and Haryana are replanting with premium rice variety.
"Floods in some districts of Punjab and Haryana has washed away the recently sown regular grades of rice. As basmati rice can be planted late, farmers are opting for it," All India Rice Exporters Association Vijay Sethia said.
He said basmati rice grown mainly in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, can be planted up to the end of July and in some cases up to August first week.
"With no time left for them to sow the normal variety for paddy, flood affected farmers are sowing basmati grade in their fields," he added.
Sethia noted there was possibility of a 5 per cent decline in basmati sowing area because of better monsoon this year but on account of recent floods the area under premium rice would go up to the 2009's level.
Basmati rice, although can be planted much later but it produces less yield as compared to the regular grades of rice.
Sethia said the total area under basmati was around 14 lakh hectare last year. In Punjab, the area under coverage for basmati was 7 lakh hectare, while it was 3.9 lakh hectare in Haryana and 3.2 lakh hectare in Uttar Pradesh.
On an average, the basmati yield per hectare is around four tonnes and the total production in the country was around 56 lakh tonnes. At present, export of basmati rice is allowed but that of non-basmati rice is banned.
According to official data, the country is estimated to have harvested 89.13 million tonnes of rice in the 2009-10 crop year (July-June), as against a record 99.18 million tonnes in 2009.
The sharp fall in rice output was mainly due to the severe drought in 2009 that hit more than half the country.