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Farmers seek Rs. 2,500 for a quintal of paddy

Members of Thanjavur Cauvery Farmers Protection Committee staged a demonstration in front of the head post office in Kumbakonam demanding payment of Rs. 2,500 per quintal of paddy.

Sundara Vimalanathan, secretary, who led the agitation, said the State government should pay an incentive of Rs. 290 per quintal taking cue from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. He also demanded crop insurance compensation for damaged samba and thaladi crops last year. He sought payment of arrears with interest to sugarcane farmers, who supplied canes to two private factories around Kumbakonam.


The next billion-dollar basmati?

New Delhi, Jan. 5: 

A decade after the release of Pusa-1121, a rice variety that accounts for roughly three-fourths of India’s $4 billion-plus annual basmati exports, farm scientists hope to replicate its success through yet another blockbuster.

Pusa-1509, a new high-yielding basmati developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), was planted in around 5,000 hectares in the 2013 kharif season. “I expect it to reach one million hectares (mh) in the coming season, replacing a large part of the 1.4 mh now covered under Pusa-1121,” says Ashok K. Singh, Project Leader (Rice) at IARI and the main breeder of Pusa-1509.

Shorter maturity

According to Singh, who was also involved in developing Pusa-1121, the main advantage of the new variety is its maturing — in just 115-120 days from the time of sowing in the nursery bed to harvesting the grain.

“Both Pusa-1121 and Pusa Basmati-1 (an older improved basmati) take 140-145 days. Thirty days less time means farmers needn’t transplant the seedlings in the peak mid-June summer.

“They can do it in mid-July with the onset of the monsoon rains, saving 5-6 irrigations,” he pointed out.

Alternatively, they could raise an additional crop — say, a 60-day moong or green gram — between harvesting of wheat in mid-April and transplanting Pusa-1509 in mid-July.

Higher yields

Moreover, the average paddy yields in Pusa-1509, at 25 quintals an acre, are more than the 20 quintals for Pusa-1121. The main reason: a lower plant height of 80 cm as against 120 cm for Pusa-1121.

“Lower height enables more fertiliser application. You can apply 2-3 bags of urea in Pusa-1509 for the entire season.

“Pusa-1121 cannot tolerate more than one bag. The plant will simply lodge and the grains, too, may shatter or drop from the panicles,” Singh explained.

Preetam Singh, a farmer from Urlana Khurd in Haryana’s Panipat district, said that the 30-day early maturity and 25 per cent extra yield made Pusa-1509 an attractive proposition.

Also, since there is no lodging or grain-shattering, the entire crop can be harvested using combines.

“This time, I planted 28 acres of Pusa-1509 and 11 acres under Pusa-1121. From next season, I will stop Pusa-1121,” he told Business Line.

What about grain quality? “Pusa-1509 scores over Pusa-1121 in aroma, but probably not as much as in fluffiness and linear elongation on cooking.

“The percentage of brokens on milling is also higher in Pusa-1509 for the raw white rice, though not for the par-boiled rice that India predominantly exports,” said Anil Kumar Mittal, CMD of the Rs 2,100-crore KRBL Ltd.

But these minute quality parameter differences may not matter vis-à-vis the vastly superior returns for farmers from growing Pusa-1509. “Pusa-1121 may still survive, but Pusa-1509 will definitely be the farmer’s first choice,” he added.

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India Winter Rice Crop Planting Area Reaches 325,000 Hectares; Down 27% from Last Year

Rice planting area under India’s winter (rabi) crop has reached around 325,000 hectares as of January 3, 2014, which is down about 27% from about 445,000 hectares planted with rabi rice during same time last year, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

India’s total rabi planting area (including rice and other grains) stands at about 59.2 million hectares, up about 4% from about 56.9 million hectares recorded during this time last year.

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Farmers Cry Foul over Paddy Procurement, Support Price

Allegations of distress sale of paddy have come to fore in Sundargarh district. While rice millers have been accused of unnecessary interference at the paddy procurement centres, the farmers alleged that they were not getting the right price for various reasons.

At a time when the district administration is struggling to streamline the procurement process, the poor farmers are resorting to distress sale.

The Civil Supplies Department through 109 procurement centres across the district is procuring paddy and the consignments are directly sent to nine authorised rice mills for processing.

Sources said the representatives of rice mills are ruling the roost at most of the centres. They resort to deduction of five to eight kgs of paddy from one quintal on the plea of presence of foreign articles and above 16 per cent of moisture content. The farmers had recently staged a protest in Lefripara block over the issue.

Sundargarh president of BJP Krushak Morcha Rabi Chandra Patel said in the name of ensuring Fair Average Quality (FAC), the agents of rice mills are bringing down the price by `65 per quintal by deducting the weight of five kg.

The practice is rampant in Subdega, Balishankara, Lefirpara, Bargaon and Tangarpali blocks and other parts of the district. If protested, the mill agents refuse to lift stocks.

Patel further pointed out that several eligible farmers have failed to get the Farmer Identity Cards (FICs) due to either large scale vacancy in Revenue Department or erratic work schedules of the officials.

In areas close to Chhattisgarh border, traders are procuring paddy from small farmers at a price between `1100 and `1150 per quintal and selling the stock to rice mills in Chhattisgarh for `1340 per quintal.

Duaru Deo of Saunamora village in Balishankar block said he has no FIC and recently he sold around 12 quintals to a trader at the price of `1150 per quintal. A week ago, some marginal farmers sold paddy at `1050 per quintal at Karamdihi in Subdega block.

Sundargarh-based Civil Supplies Officer (CSO) Abhiram Pradhan said so far around 14,000 tonnes have been procured against the target of 66,176 tonnes. He said the discoloured paddy is more and the Food Corporation of India is likely to refuse to buy red grains. Except minor hitches, the procurement process is running smoothly, he claimed.

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India Exports 9.6 Million Tons of Rice in January – November 2013

India has exported around 9.6 million tons of rice in January – November 2013, up about 1% from around 9.5 million tons of rice exported during the same period in 2012, according to the USDA Post in New Delhi.

The Post says that India’s basmati rice exports have slowed down since October 2013due to withdrawal of sanctions on Iran by the U.S. and some other countries. However, India’s PUSA 1121 basmati rice remains “very price competitive” compared to long grain rice of other origins and exports to Iran will resume soon, according to the Post.

The Post also says that the Indian government may review its non-basmati rice export policy in 2014 if government procurement drops significantly or if domestic prices increase. As of December 24, 2013, the Indian government has procured about 14.3 million tons of rice from the current marketing season 2013-14 (October – September), down about 6% from around 15.1 million tons during the corresponding period in MY 2012-13.

Untimely rains in October – November 2013 in eastern and southern states, and relatively strong open market prices have slowed down government procurement so far. The Post says that while procurement is expected to gather momentum in January 2014, total procurement in MY 2013-14 is expected to decline to around 32 million tons, down about 6% from previous year’s 34 million tons.

India’s rice production in 2013-14 is forecast to reach around 103 million tons, down about 1% from around 104.4 million tons produced in the previous year. India’s rice exports in 2013-14 are projected to reach around 10 million tons, down about 8% compared to around 10.9 million tons in the previous year, according to the USDA.

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Millers Make Hay as Govt Goes Slow on Paddy Procurement

As the State Government agencies are going slow on paddy procurement, rice millers and private traders are making a kill by purchasing kharif paddy much below the minimum support price announced by the Centre.

Reports coming from major paddy procuring districts like Bargarh, Sambalpur, Kalahandi and Balangir said that farmers are selling their paddy to rice millers at mandis at lesser price to avoid long wait to deliver the same to Government appointed agencies at minimum support price (MSP) of ` 1,310 per quintal.

“Rice millers are purchasing paddy at ` 900-1,000 per quintal while private traders pay even less as they procure it from door to door,” leader of BJP legislature party Jaynarayan Mishra said.Mishra alleged that the mandis opened by the Government are being managed by agents of the rice millers. Although the market yards belong to the Regulated Market Committees (RMCs) of the Cooperation department, the RMC employees are not visible.

Stating that huge quantity of paddy have started arriving at the mandis, president of All Odisha Farmers Association Ashok Pradhan said a cut of five to seven kgs of paddy per quintal by the procuring agencies has hit the farmers hard.

Besides, the online payment introduced by the Government to make the transaction more transparent has been proved a bane for the farmers as they have to wait for weeks to get their dues. The cost of paddy is directly deposited in the farmer’s account, Pradhan said.

Reacting to the special calamity assistance of ` 100 per quintal of paddy announced by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at Bargarh recently, the farmers’ leader said the Government takes more than what is pays. An average cut of five kg of paddy a bag (100 kg) is a hug loss to the farmers.

Even after a month of State’s request to the Centre for providing  relaxation under FAQ (fair average quality) norms, the Ministry of Food Supplies is yet to respond. The Central committee which visited the flood affected areas of some western districts including Bargarh is reported to have submitted its report to the Ministry on December 6.

There will be price cut even during procurement of paddy under relaxed specification (URS) and this will neither benefit the farmers nor the State Government, official sources said.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) will not accept URS rice and the State Government will have to make its domestic consumption, the sources said.

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Paddy crop in 3L hectares

Rajahmundry: As the irrigation canals and drains are scheduled to be closed on March 31 for taking up works as part of Godavari delta modernisation, farmers are advised to take up direct sowing of specific varieties of paddy seeds to enable them go for early harvest during rabi season in Godavari districts.

Paddy is raised in about three lakh hectares land in both the districts during rabi and the agriculture authorities are advising the farmers to go for direct sowing of seeds unlike the conventional practice of raising nurseries and transplanting them in the fields. Direct sowing of seeds also helps the farmers save money by engaging farm labourers.

After the launch of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme a few years ago, it has become a Herculean task to the farmers to engage the labourers as nobody is turning up for work as they find work and good wages under the scheme itself.

Agriculture authorities say that it helps the farmers save labour costs to the extent of Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 per hectare.

The authorities are suggesting to the farmers to use specific variety of seeds like 1001, 1010 and IR 64 if possible and other varieties as they help the crop to reach harvest stage in about 120 days and the direct sowing of seeds helps the farmers to save harvesting time by about a week.

At present the farmers are having 90 days from January 1 to March 30 and as the canals will be closed for repair works the next day, the paddy crop has to depend upon residual moisture in the earth to get nutrition and grow further.

Paucity of time for raising the crop is mainly applicable to the farmers located in central delta area as they harvested the crop at a delayed time following the cyclonic storm Helen.

The farmers located in eastern delta have already started direct sowings much earlier and the exercise is expected to be completed in a day or two. In East Godavari, paddy is expected to be raised in about 1.52 lakh hectares area and out of the required sowings in about 7,500 hectares, the farmers have taken it up in nearly 6,500 hectares.

Both direct sowings and transplantation of paddy has been completed in about 55,000 hectares so far. East Godavari agriculture joint director N. Vijay Kumar said, “We have advised the farmers to opt for direct sowing of paddy seeds as it is having multiple benefits and a good number of them are following it.”

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Water shortage: paddy on many acres face bleak prospects

Standing paddy crop on 1.50 lakh acres in the tail-end delta region is craving for adequate water, as the present supply falls short of the requirements, said V. Kannan, vice-president of the Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association.

Mr. Kannan told The Hindu that the tail end delta region was not getting its due share of water from the Lower Anicut. It was customary that 10 per cent of the total quantum of Cauvery water (released from the Mettur Dam) realised at the Grand Anicut ought to be let into to the Lower Anicut.

From the Lower Anicut water would flow to irrigate the ayacut areas under the South Rajan and North Rajan canlas, the Vadavar and the Veeranam tank.

Of the 9,400 cusecs of water being discharged from the Stanley reservoir the realisation at the Grand Anicut as on Sunday was in the region of 6,300 cusecs.

According to the established practice the Lower Anicut could have received 630 cuseces of water on a daily basis, as its judicious share, but the present realisation was ranging between 200 cusecs and 400 cusecs.

Mr. Kannan pointed out that owing to the belated water release the transplantation of paddy crop was extended beyond the scheduled period. As of now the crop was at pre-flowering and at flowering stage.

This was the right time the crop required proper wetting and if starved of water at this stage the crops would wither away. Therefore, the farmers in the places such as Killai, Parangipettai and the ayacutdars of the Sethiathope Anicut system and the South Rajan canal were keeping their fingers crossed as they were unsure about the prospects of the crop yield.

Mr. Kannan said, “If adequate water is supplied the paddy crop would be ready for harvest in the first week of February. If not, the farmers in the tail-end delta region are in for trouble,” he added.

Therefore, he appealed to the Public Works Department officials at Thanjavur to suitably increase the quantum of release from the Mettur Dam to fulfil the requirements of the farmers in this region.

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Kotpad Farmers Demand Bonus of Rs 300 per Quintal of Paddy

The bonus for paddy crop declared by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has received a lukewarm response in the tribal region with the farmers of Kotpad demanding the amount to be raised to `300 per quintal.

At a meeting in Girla village of Kotpad block on Sunday, farmers of different villages expressed concern over low profit margin in paddy cultivation due to hike in the input cost.

They demanded Minimum Support Price (MSP) of paddy to be raised from the present `1,350 to ` 1,650 per quintal. The paddy farmers said their counterparts in neighbouring Chhattisgarh are getting bonus of `300 and the Odisha Government should follow the same policy.

The meeting was attended by over 100 farmer leaders of Kotpad including Sukria Pradhan, Biren Bisoi, Anak Patra, Umesh Berham. Kotpad is the rice bowl of southern Odisha where about one lakh hectares of farmland are under paddy cultivation.

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India Winter Rice Crop Planting Area Reaches 214,000 Hectares So Far, Up 23% from Last Year

Area under India’s winter (rabi) rice crop planting has reached about 214,000 hectares as of December 20, 2013, which is up about 23% from around 174,000 hectares recorded during the same period last year, according to government sources.

Overall planting area under India’s rabi crop (including rice and other crops) has reached around 53.64 million hectares, up about 6% from around 50.73 million hectares recorded during this time last year.

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