The first round of basmati crop survey is out and the crop is likely to be lower than what it was three years back, when the acreage hit 20 lakh hectares (lh).

This year, the basmati acreage is seen at 16.31 lh, according to satellite survey commissioned by government’s agri export body APEDA.

With the Fijivirus affecting the crop in northern areas where the aromatic rice is grown and the imposition of 20 per cent export duty on non-basmati rice, the overseas demand for basmati will further grow, experts said adding this may move up paddy rates of this aromatic rice which will start arriving from next month.

Exports of basmati rice in April-July period of this fiscal was 15.05 lakh tonnes (up 5.3 per cent) at $ 1,567 million with an average price realisation of $ 1,041/tonne against 14.30 lakh tonnes at $1,214 million with an average $848/tonne a year-ago. The basmati paddy is now selling at ₹3,550 per quintal in Haryana mandis against ₹2,800 in the year ago period.

Due to Covid-19 pandemic the survey was suspended in 2020 and 2021. Last year, farmers had reduced basmati area after they could not get even the minimum support price fixed for non-basmati rice in 2020.

According to the report, prepared by Lead Connect Services, the area under basmati in largest producing State, Haryana, is seen at 6.55 lh which includes 79,110 hectares in Sonipat, 71,330 hectares in Karnal, 79,790 hectares in Jind and 64,190 hectares in Panipat, which together acount for 45 per cent share in the State’s production.

The acreage of basmati in Punjab is estimated at 5.93 lh, of which Amritsar has 1.03 lh and Tarn Taran 82,830 hectares. Both the districts contribute over 30 per cent to the State’s basmati production. Uttar Pradesh, the third largest producer, has around 3.11 lh until August 14, of which 40,000 hectares were in Aligarh and 32,000 hectares in Bulandshahr.

“As basmati varieties are in tillering to vegetative stage, except PB-1509 which is early sown variety and in peak vegetative stage, and in few places PB-01 is also at milking stage, hence it is difficult to differentiate between basmati varieties,” the agency said. The study area covered total 85 districts— 23 districts of Punjab, 30 districts of Uttar Pradesh, 22 districts of Haryana, 3 districts of Jammu & Kashmir, 4 districts of Uttarakhand, 2 districts of Himachal Pradesh and one of Delhi.

The major sown variety in study area is PB-1509 followed by PB-1121, PB-1718 and PB1401 (PB1, PB4, PB5 and PB6) sown varieties. Some of other variety like Vallabh Basmati is also observed in the study area. It is observed that all the districts in the study area showed good crop conditions. Although in some of the districts, specifically in Uttar Pradesh, less rainfall is being observed but the impact of rainfall deficiency is not observed on crop health conditions.

Total basmati paddy acreage during kharif 2019, when the last survey was undertaken, were estimated at 19.39 lh, up by 31 per cent against 14.80 lh in 2018. Basmati paddy acreage in 2019 was 4.64 lh in Uttar Pradesh, 8.43 lh in Haryana and 5.50 lh in Punjab.