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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Basmati gaining ground among farmers

Raghbir Singh Brar, Hindustan Times  Muktsar, December 02, 2013
First Published: 21:38 IST(2/12/2013) | Last Updated: 21:40 IST(2/12/2013)

With cotton having suffered extensive damage in the August floods, the arrival of cotton has fallen to 50% over last year, even the area under it has increased marginally.

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However, with area under basmati doubling and the arrival rising four-fold, many farmers could take to the crop over cotton, sources said.

"The arrival of cotton has reduced to half due to the floods, which has badly damaged the crop. Some farmers might also have kept the produce expecting higher rates in," said Kuldeep Singh Brar, district mandi officer, Muktsar.

Data with the market committee Muktsar shows that only 1,71,266 quintal cotton has arrived so far against the 3,21,987 quintal of the last year arrival for the same period.

Cotton is selling at between Rs. 4,000 and Rs. 5,100 per quintal. Rates have also slowed down and there is little arrival in the market, said sources. They added that farmers usually held up stock till January, in anticipation of rising prices.

"Cotton crop on 11,000 hectares was damaged 100 per cent. The crop that has survived has also been damaged and its yield is also expected to come down," said Muktsar chief agriculture officer Beant Singh.

The area under cotton was about 92,000 hectare this year against the 89,000 hectare last year.
Basmati growers, however, are a happy lot. The area under the crop nearly doubled this year in anticipation of good prices that were reaped last year. The expectations have been with prices even touching Rs. 4,300 a quintal.

"Basmati crop has been successful. We have also got an encouraging response to the direct sowing of rice (DSR). More than 6,000 hectares of basmati was sown directly (DSR) which has also been very successful," said the AO.

The area under cotton is likely to decrease next year and it would go under basmati due to the higher rates.

Farmers and agriculture experts opine that cotton is increasingly being perceived as a risky crop as floods damage it extensively and a lot of manual labour is involved. So, a lot of farmers have opted for basmati over cotton and more will follow next year.

"There will be an increase in the area under basmati, decrease under cotton and area under paddy will remain unaffected," added Beant Singh.

"Basmati is emerging as a good option for farmers. We have seen a four-fold increase in its arrival than the last year's 15,270 tonnes to 66,839 tonnes this year. We expect it to reach up to 75,000 tonnes. The prices have even touched Rs. 4,500," said Kuldeep Singh Brar, district mandi officer, Muktsar.

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