Agri Business

Bengal farmers smell opportunity in aromatic rice

Shobha Roy Kolkata | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on November 21, 2017

Gaining flavour A photo of a rice mill dealing exclusively in processing the Gobindobhog variety   -  Debasish Bhaduri

Strong demand, remunerative prices are the encouraging factors

The uncertainty around production and prices of the common variety of paddy, Swarna, and the prospect of earning better income are driving farmers in Burdwan district of West Bengal to go in for the cultivation of gobindobhog, a premium variety of aromatic rice.

Gobindobhog, which got the GI (Geographical Indication) tag in August, is primarily cultivated in East Burdwan district in Raina 1, Raina 2 and Khandaghosh blocks.

According to Soumen Roy, Assistant Director of Agriculture, in Raina 1 block, the area under gobindobhog has increased by over 20 per cent this year to 43 hectares from 35 hectares in 2016-17.

“It has been increasing the last couple of years as farmers are getting better prices,” Roy told BusinessLine. Forty-eight-year old SK Haque from Khandaghosh confirms that he grows only the special variety paddy on his 10- bigha (approximately 4-acre) plot.

“Even two years back, I used to grow the common variety on a portion of my field and cultivate gobindobhog on the remaining. But now I grow only gobindobhog,” he said.

And why should he not? Haque earns ₹2,000 a bag (of 60 kg) or close to ₹3,300 a quintal for gobindobhog compared with ₹800-900 a bag or ₹1,500 a quintal for Swarna.

Compared to 12-13 bags of Swarna from every bigha, a farmer gets about 10 bags of gobindobhog. The cultivation cost per bigha for Swarna is close to ₹6,000-7,000 while that for gobindobhog is ₹9,000-10,000. But the lower yield and the higher expense get more than offset by the remunerative price gobindobhog fetches, he explained.

The State produced close to 2.40 lakh tonnes of gobindobhog in 2016-17. Nearly 55 per cent of this is converted to rice. The wholesale price of the rice in FY17 is around ₹4,800 a quintal, higher by ₹200 a quintal compared to FY16.

According to Suraj Agarwal, CEO, Tirupati Agri Trade, wholesale prices have been increasing by ₹200-300 a quintal each year over the last three-four years. The rice finds a good market in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

“The increasing demand from around the world will attract more and more farmers to move into gobindobhog farming and this should increase by at least 40 per cent by next year,” he said.

Tirupati Agri procures close to five per cent of the total gobindobhog produced in the State for its brand Rice Villa.

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Published on November 21, 2017
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