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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Lack of proper marketing may lead to glut in basmati procurement: Experts

Navrajdeep Singh , Hindustan Times  Patiala, November 19, 2013
First Published: 00:54 IST(19/11/2013) | Last Updated: 00:55 IST(19/11/2013)

Inspite of a successful season for Basmati growers owing to better paddy procurement this year, both the farming fraternity and state government remain apprehensive about the same trend to die down in recent future.

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Dearth of proper marketing techniques between the state and centre government is a cause of concern alike for the farmers as well as the private players.

This season saw the farmers fetch Rs. 2500- Rs. 3500 for different basmati varieties against RS 1,310 for non-basmati varieties. As per the previous trends, with no minimum support price, government agencies didn't procure basmati varieties and local traders and private agencies have been the only buyers.

If agriculture experts are to be believed, more farmers will go for basmati varieties in coming seasons and such trend may result in glut of basmati in grain market giving private traders to exploit farmers by offering low prices for their produce.

However, showing concerns over depleting condition of water table due to cultivation of paddy crop, state government has instructed district agriculture departments to ensure 15% of total agricultural area under crop diversification in the coming five years.

Notably, in a draft of agriculture policy, Punjab State Farmers' Commission (PSFC) chairman GS Kalkat had proposed the government to promote crop diversification and to exhort farmers to grow maize, vegetables, cereals and pulses offering them with better marketing skill and good minimum selling price (MSP).

Kesar Singh Bhangu, an agriculture economist said earlier experiments of crop diversification and crop rotation tried by the government had failed due to the policiy's management and execution.

"Farmers may face exploitation on the hands of private agencies and traders. Farmers can grow basmati for two or three seasons but would be reluctant to grow it any more in future, if not provided with proper selling channels and prices", he said

Consortium of Indian Farmers' Association president Satnam Singh Bheru said with increase in cultivation area under basmati expected to rise after better results this season, the private traders may constitute a pool to lower down prices of basmati varieties than this year in absence of any proper marketing.

"Procuring better prices for basmati varieties though is a good sign, but government must come up with proper marketing and should give purchasing rights to government procuring agencies in order carry with their crop diversification mission", he said.

He, however, said the government had earlier tried purchasing basmati through Punjab Agro but it failed to implement it in its true sense as scheme totally went into slumber in four years due to high corruption in the department.

The union also has also decided to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Punjab Chief minister Prakash Singh Badal over the issue.

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