December 04, 2017 (by The Hindu)
NEW DELHI, DECEMBER 4:
Higher demand for basmati from Iran and West Asia is helping farmers in Punjab and Haryana get good price for their produce this year.
Although the area under paddy cultivation fell nearly 10 per cent from the previous kharif season, arrivals at grain markets have been healthy, say traders and mandi officials at Fatehabad and Karnal.
“The arrivals are good because farmers are getting good prices owing to export demand. The 1121 variety, particularly, commands very good price; the long-grained variety is popular in Iran, Iraq and elsewhere in West Asia,” said Asha Rani, Secretary of Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee, Karnal.
The demand for 1121 has lifted other basmati and non-basmati varieties as well. Arrivals at Karnal mandi this year are 30 per cent higher than in the previous season. “We have crossed the target for the season, but are are still procuring as farmers continue to bring stocks,” Rani said.
As on November 21, some 4.24 lakh tonnes of paddy had been traded at Karnal mandi, against 3.48 lakh tonnes during the same period last year.
Rohit Bansal, a commission agent at Fatehabad mandi in Haryana, said paddy prices this year are at least ₹1,400 higher per quintal over last year. Arrivals are at their peak and the daily traded volume is around 30,000 bags of paddy, he added.
Bangla imports surge
Sudden imports by Bangladesh over the past three months have additionally ignited the rice market in West Bengal too.
Since end-August, grain prices in West Bengal have increased 15-30 per cent for all varieties. In just the past two weeks, prices moved up 10-15 per cent.
According to Customs sources, Bangladesh imported over 9 lakh tonnes of rice since August. Though that is barely 6 per cent of West Bengal’s annual production of over 15 million tonnes, the demand growth was unexpected and depleted year-end stocks. In mid-October, rice prices stabilised briefly as millers eased up on exports fearing payment default by Bangladeshi importers. The fear, however, proved unfounded, and exports resumed, pushing up prices again. A cyclonic storm and rainfall in end-October delayed harvesting, propelling price sentiment.
According to sources, mills have been low on paddy stocks since early November leading to demand-supply mismatch at local markets. Harvesting is now on in full swing, but the fresh crop is yet to reach millers. State Agriculture Minister Ashis Banerjee said he would not comment on the price rise since harvesting is yet to be completed.
(With inputs from Shobha Roy and Abhishek Law in Kolkata.)
(This article was published on December 4, 2017)