Even after waiting for five long months, Basmati farmers were in for a huge disappointment as they had to sell their produce at a rate much lower than what they expected.
While the farmers were expecting to fetch at least Rs 2,500 per quintal, Basmati has been selling between Rs 1,800 and Rs 2,100 per quintal all through season.
Adding to their despair, those who waited for the prices to increase had to face a loss of weight of the produce, spend more on its storage and borrow loans to cater to their needs, leading to further loss.
Jagdev Singh, a farmer from Raou Ke Kalan village in Moga said, “I had sown Basmati on about 30 acres of land and waited for five long months, hoping that the prices may increase, but in vain. I had to spend extra on storage but could get only around Rs 2,000 and Rs 2,100 per quintal for the entire produce.”
Jagdev, who has been growing Basmati for last three years, said this is the lowest he got in all three years. “Even two years ago, the Basmati prices touched as high as Rs 4,000 per quintal,” he said.
Jagdev says he is not certain whether he would grow Basmati next year. “Farmers of other paddy varieties earned around Rs 40,000 per acre in October, while we are at loss. 16 to 18 quintal Basmati yield can hardly fetch Rs 32,000. The government has failed to compensate us. Basmati should have a minimum support price of `2, 500,” Jagdev says.
“We waited endlessly but cannot wait anymore as the wheat season is about to begin from April. There are no chances of increase in prices of Basmati now. We had to sell all our produce today at Rs 2,070 per quintal. This way, we have only earned about Rs 33,000 per acre. If had produced paddy, we could have earned `40,000 per acre. Basamti seemed to be a good option for a farmer to divert from paddy but now it has an uncertain future as the prices this year did not match last year’s price of Rs 2,500 per quintal an average,” Gurpal Singh and Gurnaib Singh of Khemuana village said.
This season, Basamti prices touched Rs 2,500 only for a day after Diwali and then declined again.
“We waited for the prices to increase for about five months but now have sold all six acres of produce at a range of about Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,100 per quintal which is a big loss,” Bahali Singh, a resident of a village near Kotkpaura of Faridkot said.
Faridkot district’s mandi officer Kulbir Singh Matta said, “Though the prices remained between Rs 1,900 and Rs 2,100 per quintal this season, yet Basmati is a good option for the farmers. The area under it would not decline as the prices of Basmati remained low only this season. Earlier, the farmers have even earned Rs 70,000 from an acre of Basmati. So we term it only a brief period of decline and it would pass off.”