Basmati farmers in Punjab and Haryana say they feel let down due to the government and trade “cartels” not providing lucrative prices for their crop. Rice exporters on the contrary indicate low prices to hike in import duty by Iran and crop over-supply due to rise in basmati holding.
State government’s including Punjab filing for bringing more area under basmati crop as part of crop diversification plan, farmers, who had to spend extra buck this kharif season in the wake of drought-like conditions, complained of fetching over 30 per cent lesser prices for basmati including PUSA 1121 this season. A farmer from Gurdaspur, Punjab. Said, “We are not getting adequate prices of our basmati crop. The current prices are much below what we got last year.”
A farmer who grows both Basmati and common variety rice said”…we are being exploited by not being paid good prices of our crop.”
Farmers said it was commission agents, better known as Arthiyas, who seize farmers of getting lucrative prices of their crop by forming cartels in order to earn more profit.
“It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that farmers are getting their dues. But no one from the government side bothered to check exploitation of farmers at the hands of traders,” said another basmati grower.
Basmati prices like PUSA 1121 which is showing up in grain markets are currently ruling at Rs 2,800-3,100 per quintal as against Rs 4,000-4,500 per quintal last season. PUSA 1121 accounts for over 70 per cent of area under basmati crop in Punjab and Haryana.
Prior, prices of another basmati variety 1509 went down to Rs 2,100-2,200 per quintal from Rs 2,800-3,000 per quintal.
Punjab and Haryana contribute 70 per cent of country’s premium rice variety production, being major basmati rice producing state. Basmati rice prevailed an election issue in recent Haryana Assembly polls.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his first election rally at Karnal in Haryana on October 4 had even hit out at Congress for “spreading lies”, that Centre had imposed a ban on basmati rice export.
Modi accused Congress government in Haryana for imposing 4 % tax, rendering basmati uncompetitive in the market.Refusing any injustice of farmers, rice exporters said, “there was no exploitation of basmati growers taking place by not giving them right prices of crop”.