MP’S FIGHT FOR BAS­MATI RIGHT

India Today - - NATION -

APEDA ap­plies at GI reg­istry, Chennai, for GI tag for bas­mati grown in western UP, Pun­jab, Haryana, Hi­machal Pradesh, J&K, Delhi and Ut­tarak­hand moved the Chennai High Court, which asked APEDA not to take any pre­cip­i­ta­tive ac­tion against bas­mati from MP till the dis­pute was set­tled, giv­ing MP farm­ers a tem­po­rary re­prieve. Now they are await­ing the out­come of the Oc­to­ber hear­ings. In­clu­sion in bas­mati-growing states will mean con­tin­ued pros­per­ity for the state and its farm­ers. Ex­clu­sion, how­ever, would mean a crash in value, as the pre­mium long-grained aro­matic rice grown in MP would no longer be recog­nised in the mar­ket as bas­mati.

LURE OF BAS­MATI

There are two rea­sons why farm­ers in MP took to bas­mati cul­ti­va­tion. For one, many farm­ers from North In­dia, es­pe­cially Pun­jab, Haryana and Western UP, sold land back home as hold­ings were get­ting frag­mented and there­fore less re­mu­ner­a­tive and bought much big­ger hold­ings at lower rates in MP. They brought with them their su­pe­rior agri­cul­tural tech­niques and crops such as bas­mati rice. See­ing the new­com­ers’ suc­cess, lo­cal farm­ers took to cul­ti­vat­ing the crop. Se­condly, branded rice com­pa­nies in­tro­duced the crop in many ar­eas of MP by hold­ing demon­stra­tions and tri­als and dis­tribut­ing seeds. The prod­uct has im­mense de­mand over­seas, es­pe­cially in the Gulf coun­tries, Europe and the Amer­i­cas. Branded rice com­pa­nies be­gan procur­ing paddy in MP and set up sev­eral plants in the state to process the rice for ex­port. The ex­port po­ten­tial of the prod­uct en­sured that in cer­tain years bas­mati paddy sold for al­most Rs 4,000 per quin­tal, giv­ing the sort of re­turns farm­ers farm­ers couldn’t get from any other reg­u­lar crop. Prices now are down to about Rs 2,100 per quin­tal but it’s still the best bet in the Kharif sea­son if wa­ter is avail­able.

The area un­der paddy cul­ti­va­tion in MP in­creased sub­stan­tially from 2006-07, from 8,094 hectares to about 5 lakh hectares in 2015-16. Bas­mati rice ac­counted for nearly 10 lakh tonnes of MP’s to­tal paddy pro­duc­tion of 54.38 lakh tonnes in 2014-15, as per in­dus­try es­ti­mates. Two va­ri­eties of bas­mati, namely PB 1 and P 1121, are mainly grown in MP. The state ac­counts for 30-40 per cent of to­tal PB 1 ex­ports from In­dia while it ac­counts for about 10 per cent of the to­tal bas­mati ex­ports from the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try es­ti­mates. As of now, bas­mati

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