Haryana farmers fret as basmati prices plunge below ₹2,000
The price of basmati varieties of rice has dropped below ₹2,000 leaving farmers who were hoping for a bumper harvest this season crestfallen.
Grain markets across the northern districts of Haryana reported that paddy, especially PUSA-1509 (an early variety of basmati), was being sold for ₹1,800-₹2,000 per quintal. Farmers say the prices this season were around ₹800- ₹1,000 below last year, causing a loss of around ₹20,000 per acre.
Rajbir Singh, who was selling his produce at the Ladwa grain market of Kurukshetra, said, “This is a bad year for farmers as private traders are purchasing paddy at an arbitrary rate. In the absence of buyers, I had to sell two acres of produce for ₹1,940 per quintal.”
A farmer, Suresh Pal of Yamunanagar, said, “The few buyers in mandis are making the most of farmers’ helplessness. We cannot store our produce for long and so are selling at a loss.”
Growers of parmal and PR varieties of paddy are not faring any better as government agencies are yet to start procurement.
Aggrieved farmers allege that in the absence of government agencies, they are selling their produce for around ₹1,300- ₹1,400 per quintal, which around ₹500 less than the minimum support price (MSP) fixed by the government.
“For the last five days, my produce is lying in the grain market as the traders are not ready to purchase it for above ₹1400,” said Subhash Chand of Yunispur village, Karnal.
Procurement should have begun from September 15: BKU
Reportedly, government agencies will begin procurement from October 1. However, farmers have demanded that the government advance the procurement as most varieties will be harvested within three months.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Tikait) president Ratan Mann says, “Most crops take three months to harvest. This year paddy transplantation began from June 15, thus the government should have ensured that procurement began from September 15.”
In another setback for farmers, the All India Rice Exporters’ Association (AIREA) has decided not to procure paddy until the government exempts the market fee on paddy procured from the grain markets.
AIREA president Nathi Ram Gupta said, “In the interest of farmers, the government should exempt the market fee and rural infrastructure development fee, which is around 4% on paddy procured inside the mandis of the state. After all, the government has exempted market fee on the paddy procured outside the mandi.”
In this regard, AIREA has issued an advisory to private traders asking them not to procure paddy till the government decides on the matter.