Bringing some relief to farmers, prices of basmati have increased by around Rs 350 to Rs 400 per quintal after Diwali. Earlier, the fine variety of basmati PUSA 1121 was selling at around Rs 1,700 per quintal, but now its prices have gone up to Rs 2,086 in Faridkot.
However, it is not a matter of happiness for most farmers as they have already sold their produce at the rate of Rs 1,700 per quintal. The growers of another basmati variety 1509 were the worst-affected as it matures early and sold from Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,450 per quintal last month.
In spite of an unprecedented plunge in the rates of basmati, the government had decided to procure Basmati 1509 at the minimum support price of paddy i.e. Rs 1,450 per quintal.
“Prices of basmati have increased by Rs 4,00 per quintal, which is a relief to many, but some have already sold the produce at much less rates this year. As compared to last year’s rate of Rs 3,000 per quintal, the price of basmati is still too low. We want the government to fix a minimum support price for basmati as well. Basmati is a very good option before the farmers to replace paddy and it must stay for long-term benefit of the state,” said Ashok Kumar Goyal, general secretary of the Aarhtia Association, Kotkapura.
While commission agents say that nearly 50% farmers have already sold the produce, Mandi Board officials say that only 30% produce has arrived in the market so far.
“Basmati is not selling at Rs 2,086 per quintal in grain markets of the district against the earlier rate of Rs 1,700. About 70% produce is yet to arrive in the market. As prices have now shown some increase, the arrival may pick up in days to come. Now traders have also started showing interest in buying the produce,” said Kulbir Singh Matta, district mandi officer, Faridkot.
“Basmati has left many farmers in the lurch this year as its prices remained too low compared to those during the last year. Rather, most of the crop had fallen flat in fields and farmers had to spend extra on its harvesting. Some of the small farmers had got land on annual lease, but are now unable to pay it. The government must fix some MSP for basmati too like paddy,” said Jaswinder Singh, a farmer from Ghania village in the district.
“The crop fell flat at many places this year due to bad weather and farmers had to pay double or three-fold charges for its harvesting while rates had been much lower. Still, if its rate crosses Rs 2,500 per quintal, it may save many farmers from loss,” Jagga Singh, another farmer from Behbal Khurad village.