Although the price of basmati has gone up, farmers of Punjab have no reason to smile as they have already sold their produce to private players at a low price at the end of the harvesting season in October-November last year. Farmers cannot wait to sell their crops in the wait of good price as they neither have heavy storage capacity nor enough money. Just a handful of big farmers can afford to wait for a good price to sell their crop.
In the past six weeks, the rate of 1121 Basmati has been going for Rs 3,600-4,000 per quintal and 1509 Basmati Rs 3,200-3,300 per quintal which is said to be one of the best prices in the recent past since the crop has met with poor fate in the past few years. This is one of the best prices since 2014, said rice sellers.
“We are getting Rs 3,600-4,000 per quintal for 1121 Basamti rice as the rates of Basmati have gone up since March,” said Vinod Gupta, a Fazilka-based commission agent and former president of Arhtiya Association where basmati has one of the biggest mandis. He said since March, the rates have gone up from Rs 2,500 to Rs 3,600-4,000 per quintal.
He admitted that farmers could not sell it beyond Rs 2,000 and Rs 2300, which was almost half the current price of the crop per quintal after harvesting as they cannot hold the crop for long. “Not only 1121, which is fetching around Rs 4,000 per quintal, but the 1509 variety, too, is getting a very good price between Rs 3,200 and Rs 3,300,” said rice seller Sanjiv Anad from Mukerian, adding that the crop rates are decided by the rate in the international market and this time, it is fetching good price.
“We are growing basmati on 5 to 7 acres and after selling it, we have to make arrangements for the next crop with the income,” said Jaswinder Singh, a farmer from Mukerian, adding that whatever price was available at the time of harvest, farmers have to do with that only as there is no minimum support price (MSP) for it like paddy crop.“Farmers cannot hold the crop for long as they do not have the space to hold it and they have to sell it then and there only,” said another farmer Ramanjit Singh, adding that traders and commission agents have huge space and godowns where they can hold the crop and wait for a good rate.
Another farmer, HS Shergil, said the government should fix MSP for basamti so that farmers can also benefit. He added that only the big farmers can hold the crop for few months, not the small and medium ones(THE INDIAN EXPRESS,2017).