Despite Basmati price rise, Punjab border districts record 40% dip in cultivation
Loss: As per the information, the basmati price was Rs 2,200 to Rs 2,300 last year, which rose to Rs 3,300 to 3,400punjab Updated: Oct 31, 2017 11:35 IST
Increasing demand of basmati rice and reduction in taxes on the account of Goods and Services Tax (GST) has helped the state farmers in getting better price for their produce, this season.Unfortunately most of the basmati growers preferred to cultivate lesser quality paddy varieties instead of basmati,this year.
As per the information from the district agriculture department, the basmati price was Rs 2,200 to Rs 2,300 last year, which rose to Rs 3,300 to 3,400 this year. But the farmers of Tarn Taran district said, the increased price will not do any good to them as most of the farmers didn’t sow the premium quality rice because they have been getting it at a lesser price from last few years.
There are more than 62,000 farmers in Tarn Taran district. Of these, around 25,000 are marginal.
Owing to the favourable temperature, the border districts of Punjab, Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Tarn Taran are known for the cultivation of the pure basmati paddy. As per the information from the agriculture department, a drastic 40% dip in area, under basmati cultivation was recorded this year.
There are more than 62,000 farmers in Tarn Taran district. Of these, around 25,000 are marginal farmers and most of the small farmers sow the PUSA-1121 variety of basmati, said an official.
During this season, farmers transplanted different paddy varieties in 1.75 lakh hectare area. Of this, only 40,000 hectare was covered under the basmati cultivation, which was sowed in 67,000 hectare last year. It is around 40% higher compared to this year.
Similarly, in Gurdaspur district, the farmers transplanted basmati in around 43,000 hectare area that is 40% lower as compared to the last year. Amritsar too witnessed lower basmati cultivation, this year—around 40% lower compared to the previous season.
Chief agriculture officer (CAO) Tarn Taran, Dr Partap Singh said that the prices of basmati in Punjab ranges from Rs3,300-3,400, which “is fair”. Owing to the increasing demand for the premium quality rice, the price may increase further, he said. “A decade back, farmers of the three districts used to sow 50% basmati and 50% other varieties of paddy, but now the cultivation area has dipped terribly,” he added.
“The main reason behind the decline is the faulty policies of the state and the central government. Why is the government not fixing minimum support price (MSP) for the basmati?” Tarn Taran farmer, Baljit Singh said. “The expenses incurred while sowing basmati are the same as the other paddy varieties. The farmers actually want to sow the premium quality rice but price fluctuations have thrown the farmers into a tizzy,” said farmer Satnam Singh.