New short-duration Basmati variety likely to boost exports

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 19 2013, 05:43am hrs
Punjab will be the first Indian state to start cultivation of a new short-duration variety of Basmati rice. The variety, which the state will plant from the next Kharif season, is expected boost the export potential of Basmati rice.

Developed by scientists at Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), the new variety called 'Pusa Basmati 1509' takes about 115-120 days to mature against 145-150 days for 'Pusa 1121', which accounts for the chunk of India's basmati exports. Besides, the new variety does not shatter due to delays in harvesting and has a superior grain quality.

An agriculture ministry official said the ministry is likely to notify the variety '1509' as Basmati in April.

Because of the crops lesser duration, the new variety would help farmers in saving at least 5-6 irrigation rounds and ensure better yield, KV Prabhu, head, genetics, IARI, told FE. Prabhu said the short-duration variety would help Punjab farmers reduce ground water usage by using monsoon rains.

Exporters said the new variety will definitely replace large areas under Pusa 1121, which has more than 70% share in Indias Basmati rice exports market. During the trial phase, yield-wise, the '1509' variety has given around 6.5 tonne per hectare against around 4.5 and 2.5 tonne reported for the widely grown 1121 and traditional Basmati varieties, respectively.

Through field trials, we have witnessed that the new variety gives better grain quality and yield and uses less water, which should boost exports, said Vijay Setia, former president, All India Rice Exporters Association.

India's Basmati rice exports are set to cross R16,000 crore in the current fiscal. The country shipped Basmati rice worth R15,450 crore during 2011-12.

Pusa Basmati 1121, also developed by IARI, was released for commercial cultivation in 2003. This variety presently occupies more than 1.5 million hectare of Basmati rice grown area.

An official with Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) said Indias Basmati rice exports rose sharply following the introduction of the Pusa 1121 variety in the global market. Pusa 1121 has huge demand in the M iddle East.

The last six years have been watershed years for India's Basmati exports. From a modest R2,792 crore during 2006-07, exports have risen to the present level.

Basmati rice is mostly grown in Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand.