Expecting better returns on account of improved demand for basmati rice, farmers in Punjab and Haryana are likely to bring more area under the crop this kharif season than last year, trade experts and officials told The Hindu .
Farmers earned good returns in the previous season (2019-20). As the demand for basmati is expected to remain strong in the domestic and international markets, farmers are likely to bring more area under the crop this year. Rice traders have been advising farmers to grow more basmati as they expect the price to stay strong.
“We are expecting the area under basmati in Punjab to increase to 7 lakh hectares this season from 6.50 lakh hectares. Farmers have been getting a good price for basmati, and the trend is expected to continue this year. Last year, we sensitised the farmers to the need for judicious use of pesticides, and this campaign has yielded results,” Punjab Agriculture Secretary Kahan Singh Pannu said.
Basmati brings higher returns, requires less water and, being a short-duration crop, it can be sown late. Driven by these factors, farmers in Punjab and Haryana grow this premium variety. Both States account for over 70% of India’s basmati output.
“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the global lockdown, there is a clamour for buffer stocks in Arab nations. Many of them are placing huge orders for basmati rice from India,” said Ashok Sethi, Director, Punjab Rice Exporters Association.
“Rice mills are ready to meet the demand, and hope the farmers are gearing to plant basmati in more area. We expect an increase of 5-7% in area under basmati this year. Basmati prices have ruled firm between ₹3,200 and ₹3,300 a quintal. And they are likely to remain firm on more demand,” he said.
“We have even made an appeal to the basmati growers to buy quality seeds, especially for the 1718, 1509 and 1121 varieties, which have a huge demand. We are assuring them that their entire output will be lifted at a remunerative prices by exporters,” he said.
M.P. Jindal, former president and now member of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association, said the area under basmati in Punjab and Haryana is likely to rise as the prices are expected to stay firm. “We are expecting basmati to fetch better returns on improved demand. Hence, farmers will be inclined to plant more area with basmati than last year,” he said.