Faridkot district will bring more area under basmati as compared to last year.
The agriculture department expects the area to be brought under basmati to be 8,000 hectares as compared to the 3,000 hectares last year.
Due to the low rates the year before last, the area under basmati had fallen by about 1,200 hectares last year. But owing to the encouraging rates last year, more farmers have opted for basmati this year.
Another reason behind the increase in the area under basmati is the drought-like situation last year following which the farmers had to spend a lot on fuel to save paddy by running generators.
"The area under basmati is likely to increase this year by at least 20 to 25%. Basmati and cotton are the only two crops in the Malwa region which can be suitable alternatives to paddy. The area under cotton is nearly the same as the farmers are more inclined to basmati," said Atma Singh Sidhu, marketing officer, agriculture department, Faridkot. "Besides, the government is also planning to increase the area under basmati and there is possibility of getting a good price this year," he added.
Bhola Singh, a farmer from Bir Sikhan Wala village, has also opted for basmati on two acres as he thinks basmati to be a better option than paddy. "Paddy has a fixed income as it has a support price, so is the per acre yield with small variation, but basmati has chances of more income as it is procured privately," he said.
He has sown basmati on the area which was under cotton last year owing to the problem of plucking and the weeds which began to grow in the cotton fields after two crops.
Rupinder Singh, a farmer from Bargari village, has a different view. "The area under basmati in and around our village has decreased due to many reasons. First, basmati does not have a fixed MSP and there is a lot of variation in rates. One year, the area under basmati increases, but due to more supply, the rates come down and the farmers decrease the area under it the next year," he said.
"Basmati is also a commercial crop and it may have to be stored at home to get good prices, but most of the farmers unload the produce immediately after they harvest it. The farmers have also failed to maintain quality. They blindly apply fertilisers and insecticides and the poor quality fetches low rates," said Rupinder, who has been sowing basmati for 12 years.
According to him, the assured market for basmati at the MSP can be helpful to increase the area under it.
Sukhwant Singh Sran, chief agriculture officer, said, "We expect the area under basmati to be increased this year owing to satisfactory rates. So we have increased our expected area by 5,000 hectares this year. So far, basmati, by direct sowing and manually, has been transplanted on about 800 hectares."