From the white gold fields of cotton bale to the rust of the paddy fields, Kotkapura grain market is now a hub of activity for the paddy crop.
Even as the government procurement of paddy starts from October 1, arrival of the crop in the district started from September 14. More than 22,000 MT of the early variety has been procured by the private firms. The paddy is also selling at much higher price than the minimum support price of Rs. 1,345.
The going rate has ranged from Rs. 1,380-1,445 a quintal at the highest, information gathered from the Kotkapura Market Committee states.
Cotton arrival in the market has shrank over the years as the crop has lost popularity with the farmers in the region. Of the three grain markets in the district, Faridkot is the largest after Jaitu and Kotkapura.
"Due to vast open space and the credibility and reliability of the local commission agents, farmers from adjoining districts also come to Kotkapura to sell their produce. Traders also come from far off areas to buy the paddy and basmati here," said commission agent Harvinder Singh.
The variety, PR 111, variety is arriving in the grain market and it is being procured by the big firms and basmati exporters from other places than local millers.
"A new variety of Basmati has also arrived on my shop and sold for Rs. 3,501-3,551 which is very encouraging," said Ashok Goyal, general secretary of Kotkapura Arathiya Association.
"With the repeated failure of cotton, farmers have found an alternative to paddy. Paddy is now grown on a major area and due to different factors, the Kotkapura grain market is the leading market of paddy in the region," Goyal adds.
He claimed that with the newer varieties of paddy coming in, the hit to diversification because of the decreasing area under cotton would be limited to an extent. There are savings in water and input costs, he claimed.
Earlier, most area under paddy would be of the PUSA 44 variety, a water guzzler, PR 118, a variety that took longer to mature.
"Both the yield and rates of early varieties of paddy and a new variety of Basmati are very encouraging and the farmers are happy. The area under Basmati would increase considerably next year," said Sukhwant Singh Sran, chief agriculture officer Faridkot.