The move comes in wake of decreasing procurement by private parties in view of shrinking export orders.
Besides helping farmers, Hafeds entry is expected to give the current market prices a leg up. Where the market price for Pusa 1121 was hovering at Rs 2,600-2,700 per quintal last year, this year the prices have failed to pick up beyond Rs 1,800-1,900 per quintal.
A senior official of Hafed said, while the federation has been purchasing basmati variety from the mandis earlier, now it will procure the Pusa 1121 variety in large quantities. We have identified about 30-35 mandis including Karnal, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Jind, Panipat and Sirsa to procure the variety. We shall try to procure huge quantities provided the product is of good quality, said the official.
Just some months back, farmers who grew the Pusa 1121 variety were jolted by statements in the Iranian press that Pusa Basmati 1121 rice grains are genetically modified and are contaminated with heavy metals that may adversely affect consumer health. Many export orders were cancelled after this and exporters began scouting for new markets. Hafed will also explore new markets such as the Gulf, Europe, Canada, America etc where demand Pusa 1121 persists. This will ensure better remuneration for farmers, the official added.
Pusa 1121, which was declared a basmati rice variety in November last year, has attracted a large majority of farmers in Punjab and Haryana due to higher returns. With the area under basmati and superior paddy varieties increasing this year at the expense of the acreage under rice varieties for local consumption, Haryanas share in the central rice pool is likely to fall 5% to 13.5 lakh metric tonnes (Lmt) from 14.24 lmt last year.
Hafed is adding 2 lmt to its storage capacity of 16.42 Lmt by March 2010. This will include 80,000 mt of godown space and 1.2 Lmt of plinths to be constructed at 45 locations at around Rs 25 crore.