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Bumper Basmati crop bursts Badal drought ' bubble'.

WHILE the cash- strapped Punjab government is pressing the Centre for a ` 2,330- crore special assistance to deal with the ' drought like situation', the bumper Basmati rice crop in the state presents a completely different picture.

According to sources, Basmati farmers are likely to harvest 34 lakh tonnes this season, which will be 11.35 lakh tonnes more than the previous harvest. The farmers had produced 22.65 lakh tonnes Basmati rice in 2013.

Another fact which does not fit into the drought- like picture is the area under Basmati rice cultivation, which increased from 5.59 lakh hectares in 2013 to 8.62 lakh hectares this year. According to department of agriculture director Mangal Singh Sandhu, the farmers have sown Basmati over 30 per cent area of the total area under rice cultivation.

Farmers of Gurdaspur, Taran Taran and Jalalabad have grown Basmati rice over 90 per cent area. " The Basmati farmers will harvest a bumper crop this year.

The yield will be higher than the previous year," Sandhu said.

Punjab requested for the Central assistance thrice in the last three months. Before meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, chief minister ( CM) Parkash Singh Badal had met Union finance minister Arun Jaitley on June 12 seeking the ` 2,330- crore package. He had also met Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh demanding a ` 10,000- crore loan waiver and compensation for the farmers.

" The state is facing 58- per cent rain deficit. The Basmati rice crop was grown by using the water drawn from tube wells.

The state government has spent ` 1,500 crore on power subsidy.

The farmers themselves spent more than ` 850 crore on diesel. Besides the Central assistance of ` 2,330 crore, we have sought MSP for Basmati rice," state agriculture minister Tota Singh said.

The bumper crop, according to rice traders, is likely to cause a glut in the market. " The bumper crop will result in, at least, 30 per cent drop in Basmati prices," a rice exporter said.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Sep 24, 2014
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