By Manmeet Singh Gill
With the harvesting of early varieties of basmati, including the 1509, starting in the district, nearly 40,000 metric tonnes (MT) of crop has reached the grain markets here. Farmers fear that the prices may crash once the harvesting picks up the pace. So far, they are getting a price in the range of Rs 2,800 to Rs 3,600 per quintal.
The farmers said last year too, the price of the 1509 variety of basmati was initially around Rs 3,700 per quintal which plummeted to around Rs 3,000-3,100 per quintal during the later days. “This year too it is feared that the prices would fall as the government has also imposed certain restrictions on the export of basmati,” said Joginder Singh, who has sold his crop for Rs 3,400 per quintal.
The early sown and short maturity period basmati varieties are mostly grown in the vegetable belts — Mehta, Tarsikka and Majitha of the district where farmers cultivate peas or potato crop in the time period between harvesting of paddy and sowing of wheat crop.
Encouraged by comparatively better prices last year, the area under basmati varieties in the district has been increased to nearly 1.42 lakh hectares this year. As per the figures available with the Agriculture Department, basmati varieties were cultivated on an area of 50,000 hectares last year.
District Mandi Board officials stated that a maximum of 23,610 MT of basmati arrived at the Bhagtanwala grain market in the city followed by 12,857 MT in Gehri mandi. While the parmal varieties of paddy are purchased by the government at the minimum support price under the public distribution system, the basmati varieties are solely purchased by private buyers.
Lakhbir Singh Nizampura, president, Vegetable Growers’ Association, said, “These early maturing varieties are of great help to vegetable cultivators as they get enough time for growing vegetables before sowing wheat.” He however complained that as the prices are decided by private buyers, the farmers do not get a profitable price. He added that government should also fix the MSP for basmati varieties.
This article has been republished from The Tribune