Curtail basmati crop, Punjab farmers told

By TheHindu on 26 Nov 2016 | read

Last year, farmers suffered losses as the premium basmati variety was sold at a price below that of regular paddy.

Experts feel price could stay weak in coming season due to carryover stocks

After farmers who grew basmati suffered huge losses on account of poor returns in Punjab during the last season, the State’s premier agriculture university has asked them to curtail the area under the crop this year due to huge carryover stocks.

Experts from the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, believe that the price of basmati could stay weak in the coming season due to huge carryover stocks, a release from the university said.

‘Abundant stocks’

“It is anticipated that the basmati market may again face the problem of abundant stocks in the current season [2016-17] ... So we are advising the farmers to curtail the area under basmati rice to less than 5 lakh hectares during the current kharif season. This would help clear the accumulated stocks,” said the PAU release.

In Punjab, basmati rice was planted on 8.62 lakh hectares in 2014-15.

In 2015-16, the crop was cultivated on 7.60 lakh hectares.

“Higher sowing coupled with huge carryover stocks led to a crash in basmati rice prices in the domestic market,” the PAU said, adding that sufficient stocks were already lying in stores.

Decline in prices

Last year, farmers in Punjab and neighbouring Haryana suffered losses as the premium basmati variety was sold at a price that was even below regular paddy (rice).

Basmati PUSA 1509 variety was offered in the range of Rs. 1,000-Rs. 1,200 per quintal last season, which was almost half the price that farmers got in 2014-15.

Basmati rice usually fetches higher returns, requires less water and being a short duration variety it can be sown late. These are the factors that attract farmers in Punjab and Haryana to sow this premium variety. Both the States account for over 70 per cent of India’s output of the aromatic, long-grain staple.

Paddy transplanting

PAU experts have also advised the farmers not to transplant paddy before June 15.

Last year, Punjab produced 180 lakh tonnes of paddy of which a record 93.5 lakh tonnes of rice was contributed to the Central pool.