Known as Haryana’s pride, the aromatic long-grained basmati varieties are not getting buyers despite about 40% fall in their prices that has shattered farmers’ dream of rich harvest.
The prices of basmati varieties, including Pusa 1121, Pusa PB 1509, basmati (Desi Taraori) and Sharbati, have been hovering between Rs 1,700 to Rs 1,900 per quintal since the procurement began in the first week of October. This has forced farmers to sell their produce to private traders at about Rs 1,500 lower than the last year’s rate of Rs 3,200 per quintal.
In the beginning of the procurement season, the Haryana government’s decision of procuring Pusa PB 1509 variety of paddy at a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,450 per quintal had triggered a hike in the prices of basmati varieties, taking these from Rs 1,300 to Rs 1,500 per quintal, but for the past one month prices are stuck around Rs 1800.
TRADERS COMPLAINING OF POOR DEMAND
Apart from farmers, people in the basmati rice business are also worried and they are blaming poor demand of basmati rice in the international market.
“We cannot blame the government for the fall in prices of paddy. The the traders are not purchasing it because there is no demand in the international market, especially in Iran, which is the biggest consumer of Indian basmati rice”, said Ram Gopal Singh of Hafed Rama Karishna rice mill, Samalkha.
He said, “Owner of a rice mill can earn profit if he sells rice double then the prices of paddy, but for the past two years, there is no demand in the international market and people in India do not consume Basmati rice”
GOVT NOT READY TO PROCURE BASMATI ON MSP
Though farmers are crying for help from the government to fix MSP for their produce, the officials of the Haryana agriculture department are of the view that the government cannot help them tide over the Basmati crisis.
“Even the government faces huge losses in the purchase of wheat and parmal varieties of paddy. Now the government does not want to invite more trouble by announcing MSP for basmati”, said a senior official of the agriculture department, on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, deputy director of Agriculture department Pardeep Kumar Meel has advised that farmers should look for alternatives to basmati as there is no demand of basmati rice in the international market.
FARMERS LOOKING FOR ALTERNATIVES
Following steep fall in prices of paddy, farmers are indeed looking for alternatives to shun basmati crop as this most preferred crop is no more profitable.
“The traditional basmati of Haryana has lost its charm due to persistent fall in its demand and lack of support from the government,” said Haryana BKU president Gurnam Singh Chaduni. “The farmers will have to shun this crop in the absence of proper marketing system and the government’s reluctance to announce its MSP. The parmal varieties have now become more profitable than Basmati,” he added.