With few days left for the start of the paddy season, to limit the area under basmati varieties remain a Herculean task for agriculture department, especially after last year’s successful business as most of the farmers are motivated to sow basmati varieties instead of normal paddy varieties.
If experts are to be believed, over-production of basmati this year may lead to steep fall in its prices and may result in glut of basmati, besides exploitation of farmers in the grain markets due to poor marketing techniques of these varieties.
Experts from Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) have already exhorted farmers, who experimented with basmati varieties last season, to add only 10% of the total area under basmati this time and not more, in order to maintain demand and supply balance.
Year 2013 remained lucrative for basmati growers as they got 3000-` 3500 per quintal for different basmati varieties, against 1,310 per quintal for non-basmati varieties. For high quality basmati varieties, far mers were paid upto 5500. Nearly 19, 000 hectares of area was under basmati varieties in Patiala last year, while agriculture officials are expecting to have 24,000 hectare area under basmati.
“We have been expecting to increase only 5,000 hectares of area than last year, but the farmers are showing greater interest in sowing basmati varieties. Seeds of basmati rice including PUSA 1121 and PUSA PB 1509 are in huge demand,” said chief agriculture officer, Patiala, Inderpal Singh Sandhu.
In 2013, showing concern over depleting condition of water table due to cultivation of water- guzzling varieties of paddy, the Punjab government had promoted PUSA 1121 and PUSA PB 1509 basmati varieties.
Sandhu said seeing interest of farmers, area under basmati was expected to increase manifolds after last year successful season and that may cause problems for its growers and officials in the latter stages as well.