For the rice season that has almost arrived, the economists and experts at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) advise farmers across north India to sow diverse varieties instead of just one, as that will maintain the demand-supply balance and prevent heavy losses.
Most farmers in the rice-growing states sow Punjab PUSA Basmati 1509 for the past few years to cater to the demand from the Middle East, Europe, and the US; but if its cultivation increases each year, the price will fall dangerously, opine experts.
Field surveys suggest that almost every farmer will sow Basmati 1509. "Last year, it was cultivated over 5.59 lakh hectares in Punjab. For a demand-supply balance and good price, the area under cultivation should not rise by more than 10%," said MS Sidhu, head of the department of economics and sociology at the PAU.
Last year, looking at the demand, 13 districts of Madhya Pradesh and five of Andhra Pradesh also cultivated Basmati 1509, even though these states do not have any rice-growing tradition. "The excess of everything is bad," said Sidhu. Senior rice breeder GS Mangat from the department of plant breeding and genetics recommends Punjab Basmati 3 and PUSA Basmati 1121. Among the non-Basmati varieties, he suggests PR 122 and PR 121 for higher yield, besides better grain quality and disease resistance.
Director of extension education HS Dhaliwal, who is also dean of the College of Agriculture, said the university had tried to make farmers aware through Kisan Melas and other training programmes. "We advise them to show different varieties of rice and not rely on one. Our economists, too, have the same opinion," he added.