Since the introduction of 1121 variety in 2006, the country’s Basmati rice exports have risen sharply.
Pritam Singh, a farmer from Urlana village in Panipat district of Haryana has reasons to smile after getting higher yield for the short duration basmati rice variety — PUSA 1509 sown in this kharif season in his 12 acres of land.
Singh is also expecting a higher return for cultivating a new variety which was first introduced four years back, as this basmati paddy variety is currently fetching around `2,500-3,000 per quintal from around Rs 1,800-2,000 per quintal a year back.
“For the first time since we started cultivation of new basmati rice variety, the yield has been in the range of 25-30 quintals per acres against an average of around 18 quintals per acre in the last couple of years,” Singh told FE.
Due to lesser time of around 120 days taken for maturing of PUSA 1509 basmati variety against more than 140 days variety of PUSA 1121, thousands of farmers especially in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh have taken additional crop like pulses between harvesting of wheat and sowing of paddy.
According to A K Singh, principal scientist with Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) which has developed both the basmati rice varieties, 1509 variety also helps farmers to save additional cost of water or irrigation and other inputs.
This year, out of the estimated 2 million hectare of basmati rice planted area, 1509 variety was sown in around 10% of areas.
“In case of delayed monsoon, 1509 variety could be planted by end of July or middle of August while in case of 1121 variety, the sowing has to begin by end of June the usual time for entry of south-west monsoon into northern India,” Singh said.
Since the introduction of 1121 variety in 2006, the country’s Basmati rice exports have risen sharply. Exports of the aromatic long-grained rice rose from `2,792 crore in 2006-07 to `21,604 crore in the last fiscal.
Of the total around 4 million tonne of basmati rice exports, the PUSA 1121 has more than 70% share.
It’s unfair for the farmers not to grow new Basmati variety till they get another alternate crop, an official with the Punjab agriculture department said.
In Punjab and Haryana, groundwater has depleted to alarming levels because of excessive usage in growing paddy and wheat.
This has forced the two states to ban usage of groundwater in the summer month of June for rice sowing, so that the monsoon rains can be used in July.
Besides that, Punjab, which grows common paddy variety in 2.9 million hectare, is planning to shift at least a million hectare to alternate crops in the next five years.