M A I N   N E W S

‘Basmati’ hopes wither in Haryana
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
The Centre has notified the long-grained paddy, PUSA 1121, as non-basmati variety. This decision will adversely affect farmers in Punjab and Haryana, who have increased the area under PUSA 1121 by four times over last year.

Since this aromatic variety of paddy had fetched high returns, farmers in the two states increased the area under cultivation in anticipation of it being declared a basmati variety this year. Over 50 per cent of area under paddy in the two states this year is under PUSA 1121.

Last year, the variety fetched Rs 50,000 to Rs 55, 000 per acre, which is higher than prices fetched by other basmati varieties. Since this variety requires less water and the yield is almost two times more as compared to other varieties, it has become popular with farmers.

With the government declaring it a non-basmati variety, through a notification issued yesterday, the farmers will not be able to get a good price for the variety, which will also lose a large chunk of foreign market.

Over the past three years, other than the farmers, rice millers and exporters have also benefited from this variety that has less breakage during milling and a high sale price.

Vijay Setia, president, All-India Rice Exporters Association, expressing shock at the decision, said despite the subsidy (approximately Rs 20 per kg) by European Union on basmati varieties, PUSA 1121 had managed to capture a large market without any financial support.

“But with the government now declaring it as non-basmati, foreign buyers will lose interest and the farmers will not get a good price,” he said.

Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of the Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal), said: “The decision to declare PUSA 1121as non-basmati is anti-farmer. We will meet the Prime Minister on September 16 and submit a memorandum, asking the government to regard PUSA 1121, RH 10 and sharbati varieties as basmati and a separate minimum support price (MSP) for these,” he added.



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