Higher prices and small-sized bags of basmati seed being distributed at the Kisan Mela held at the regional research station here of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, made many farmers stand repeatedly in queues to get sufficient quantity of seed. Besides, the latest varieties brought out by PAU did not find many takers.
While the windows selling seed of new variety had hardly any buyer till noon, a long queue of farmers could be seen at the window selling PUSA Basmati 1121 and 1509 varieties. The seed of old varieties was also packed in small-sized bags. Long queues of framers to purchase basmati seed were an indication of increase in the area under basmati.
"The university is selling 4-kg bag of basmati seed for Rs 300 per farmer. It is a cruel joke with farmers. One acre area requires about 6kg seed, so we have to stand in the queue for the fifth time to get 20kg seed that we require," said Gurcharan Singh, a farmer from Mohrewala village in Ferozepur, standing in the queue.
"All old variety seeds are being sold in 8-kg packings against 24 kg earlier. It is understandable to sell seed of new varieties in small quantity, but as far as old varities are concerned, their seed should be provided in large quantities," said Gurmeet Singh, a farmer from Koharwala village of Faridkot district.
In order to make farmers stay in the mela for quite some time, officials do not distribute bags of seed till 2 pm.
The windows selling the seed of new varieties had few takers. There was no response even for the seed of the latest variety PR 122. "Farmers are not inclined to sow new varieties of PR 121, 122 and 123 as they have to face problem in selling them. Most of private traders, including government procurement agencies, prefer to buy PR111, PUSA 44 and PR 118 varieties of non- basmati rice. Most of the area goes under these varieties and others are left on a marginal area," said Ashok Goyal, general secretary of the Commission Agents Association in Kotkapura.
Dr Pankaj Rathore, director, regional research station, said that small packing is made to reach a maximum number of farmers. "Large-sized packs have some disadvantages as bags get damaged and only a small number of farmers purchase them. Besides, the university has to sell the seed all over the state. Also, seed is produced in advance as nothing can be said about the trend during the next season of sowing crops," said Rathore.
"Though, we have limited resources but the quality of our seed quality is better," he added. firstname.lastname@example.org