Agri Business

Higher prices may cheer basmati farmers

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on September 08, 2021

Some farmers have shifted to high-yielding varieties, while others have gone for sugarcane and pulses

Rates up by a third at the start of the harvest season on likely lower crop

Basmati growers are in for good time this harvest season in North India as prices are ruling higher by about a third over last year’s levels. Talks of a lower crop on account of a likely lower acreage, especially for the Pusa Basmati 1509 variety, which is currently being harvested has fuelled an uptrend in basmati prices over the past few days, trade sources said.

The arrivals of the 1509 variety have begun in Punjab and Haryana and modal prices across several mandis are ranging between ₹2,750 and ₹3,200 per quintal compared with ₹2,100-2,200 levels in the same period last year. Prices of the dominant 1121 variety, which will hit the markets this month end, are hovering around ₹3,000 levels, gaining some ₹300-400 over the past few days. “There is definitely a shortage of crop this time and everyone is saying the area under cultivation is less this time. Besides, there’s some varietal shift and also some basmati area has gone to crops such as sugarcane and pulses,” said Vijay Setia of Chamanlal Setia Exports Ltd, a rice miller in Karnal.

Shift to other varieties

Some farmers growing the 1509 variety have shifted to a newer and high-yielding variety Pusa Basmati 1718, which had fetched better prices last year, Setia said. The new variety 1718 was introduced three years ago and is closer to Pusa Basmati 1121 variety, with good yield and recovery.

Setia, former chairman of All India Rice Exporters Association, further said in absence of data on crop acreage and the projected output, the market sentiments are at play. Earlier, APEDA used to survey the crop area, based on which the trade used to get an idea of the crop size, Setia said.

The full scale arrivals of 1509 are yet to pick up. “Normally around this time, arrivals should pick up. This time the monsoon is still active in the North-West; as a result, harvest has not picked up,” Setia added.

“ The parboiled basmati rice is selling at ₹5,000 against ₹4,000 per quintal last year, and similarly the steamed rice is quoted around ₹5,800 compared with ₹4,700-5,000 last year. There is quite a reasonable jump in prices which is good for the farmers,” Setia said. However, the increase in prices is unlikely to any impact on the demand, both in domestic and overseas markets, he added.

Trade sources said the increase in 1509 prices has pushed up the other varieties of basmati including 1121. Modal prices are ranging from ₹2,495-3,200 levels across various markets and also depending on the moisture quality. The paddy currently arriving in mandis has relatively higher moisture, sources said.

Yields, exports

Pawan Munjal, a broker in Fazilka, said the arrivals would pick up over the next couple of weeks, which should cool off prices by early October. “The yields of 1509 variety would be higher this year due to good rains. Farmers are happy with higher yields and better prices,” he added.

Basmati exports during April-June quarter were lower at 10.88 lakh tonnes (lt) against 12.84 lt in the same period last year. In value terms, the shipments were lower by around 22 per cent at ₹6,798 crore (₹8,698 crore). Setia said higher freight rates and the lack of availability of containers have been a concern for the exporters.

Published on September 07, 2021

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