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Punjab millers hit by slow pace of rice procurement

Punjab's rice mills, mostly small and medium-sized units, are running at far below their full capacity, with entrepreneurs attributing this state of affairs to the government's policies. Low levels of rice procurement by the Central and state government agencies are forcing them to operate at low capacity, entrepreneurs complain.

Punjab, which contributes a large share to the Central pool for the public distribution system (PDS), has a total of about 3,050 small rice processing mills. These mills process non-basmati rice procured by the Central and state government agencies meant for the PDS. The millers are paid processing charges and also get the by-products of paddy, such as paddy husk and bran.

The president of the Rice Millers Association of Punjab, Tarsem Saini, told Business Standard that Punjab's mills have the capacity to process one lakh tonnes of rice a day, but the government agencies have been lifting only 50,000 tonnes daily across the state, forcing the mills to operate at half capacity.

"The slow movement of grain from the mills makes us slow down the processing. While we can finish the entire stock of 12.5 million tonnes by February 28, we have to stretch it to August," said Saini.

He added: "We met senior government officials to apprise them that due to the rise in the moisture content after February, the grain starts deteriorating and that is a loss to the millers. But we did not get any relief. Some affluent millers have installed sortex machines (machines that can segregate damaged and coloured grain from healthy grain) but very few can afford this."

Sushil Singla of Lakshmi Rice Mills, Samana, lamented that there has been no upgradation in the assessment method for rice, which is done manually. Last year, a substantial chunk of rice was rejected by Food Corporation of India officials, on grounds of "pinpoint damage". Even the Panjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, has found through studies that pinpoint-sized black spots on rice (or pinpoint damage) are evidence of excess iron and not signs of damage. But there is no clarity from any government agency on this.

Due to the annual hike in the power tariff and the consistent rise in wage rates, costs are steadily going up, but there has been no revision in processing charges for the past eight years. It is still Rs 15 per quintal, Singla added. The millers bear an additional maintenance cost of Rs 7-8 per quintal due to delayed processing.

Millers in the state speculate that as a result of the growing paddy acreage in the Eastern states - Orissa, West Bengal and even Chhattisgarh - rice-consuming states are now less dependent on Punjab. So, from 2010-11 on, the rice off-take from Punjab has slowed down. The shortage of staff in FCI is also, according to the millers, slowing the movement of rice from Punjab.

The millers remained on strike last month, to make the government aware of issues relating to rice processing. They resumed operations only early this month after an assurance from the state government.

Rice processing used to be a seasonal business, but has become an annual occupation due to lack of correct policies.

Gurdeep Cheema, the president of the Patiala Rice Millers Association, hopes that this is only a phase and that business will revive soon. The implementation of the Food Security Act, recently passed by Parliament, will trigger higher demand for food grain, and paddy processing in Punjab will see its fortunes restored, he hopes.

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Over 17.5 million tonnes of paddy procured in Punjab and Haryana

The Government agencies and private millers procured more than 17.5 million tonnes of Paddy in Punjab and Haryana. While in Punjab the total procurement was over 12.5 million tonnes, whereas in Haryana the agencies and traders procured about 5 million tonnes of Paddy till last evening.
In Punjab, out of total procurement of 12.53 million tonnes of paddy in all the procurement centers of the state, the Government agencies procured 11.90 tonnes of paddy (95.1%) till date whereas private traders procured 6.15 lakh tonnes (4.9%) of paddy. Till November 18, Goverment agencies like PUNGRAIN had procured 3.62 million tonnes (30.4%) whereas MARKFED procured 2.77 million tonnes (23.3%). PUNSUP procured 2.67 million tonnes (22.4%), PSWC procured 1.16 million tonnes (9.8%) whereas PAFC was able to procure 1.22 million tonnes (10.2%) of paddy. The Central Government agency FCI had been able to procure 4.5 lakh tonnes (3.8%).
The spokesperson added that District Sangrur with 1.54 million tonnes of procurement was leading in procurement operations whereas District Ludhiana with 1.46 million tonnes of procurement was at second slot and district Patiala 1.20 million tonnes of procurement ranked at third position.
As far Haryana is concerned, about 4.98 million tonnes of paddy has so far arrived in various mandis during the current procurement season as compared to arrival  of over 4.70 million tonnes of paddy during the corresponding period last year.
While stating this here today, a spokesman of the Food and Supplies Department said the Government agencies have purchased over 3.56 million tonnes of paddy. He said that Food and Supplies Department has purchased over 1.44 million tonnes of paddy, HAFED over 1.00 million tonnes, Agro Industries Corporation over 5.80 lakh metric tonnes, Haryana Warehousing Corporation over 3.42 lakh metric tonnes, CONFED over 1.64 lakh metric tonnes and Food Corporation of India had purchased 13,166 metric tonnes of paddy, he added.
He said that district Karnal is leading in the paddy arrival where over 9.35 lakh metric tonnes of paddy has arrived in the mandis, followed by Kurukshetra with over 8.80 lakh metric tonnes. District Kaithal ranks third in the paddy arrival where over 7.76 lakh metric tonnes of paddy has arrived in the mandis, in district Fatehabad over 5.22 lakh metric tonnes of paddy has arrived. Similarly, in Ambala over 5.22 lakh metric tonnes of paddy has arrived in the mandis, in Yamunanagar over 3.38 lakh metric tonnes, in Panipat over 1.65 lakh metric tonnes, in Sonipat over 1.53 lakh metric tonnes, in Palwal over 1.28 lakh metric tonnes, in Sirsa over 1.24 lakh metric tonnes, in Panchkula 83,499 metric tonnes, in Rohtak 26248 metric tonnes, in Faridabad 21,959 metric tonnes and in Hisar 18,702 metric tonnes of paddy has arrived in the mandis.
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Punjab, Haryana procure 175 lakh tonnes paddy

Nearly 175 lakh tonnes of paddy has been procured in Punjab and Haryana this season, food and civil supplies officials in the two states said Monday.

Of this, nearly 125 lakh tonnes were procured in Punjab while over 50 lakh tonnes were procured in Haryana.

Over 95 percent of the paddy arrivals have been procured by government agencies in Punjab while the rest has been bought by private rice millers and traders.

Sangrur, Ludhiana and Patiala districts in Punjab were leading in paddy procurement, the officials said.

In neighbouring Haryana, nearly 50 lakh tonnes of paddy has so far arrived in the various grain markets, officials said. This is higher than the paddy procurement of 46.74 lakh tonnes in the same period last year.

Government agencies in Haryana have procured nearly 35.5 lakh tonnes paddy this year. The rest has gone to rice millers and traders.

Karnal, Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts of Haryana were leading in paddy arrivals.

Procurement of paddy in both states started Oct 1.

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बासमती धान के दाम गिरे, किसान मायूस

पिहोवा (वधवा): पिछले दिनों 6,000 के आसपास का रेट छूकर बासमती धान के रेटों में मंदी आने से किसानों के चेहरे पर मायूसी दिखाई देने लगी है। इसमें सबसे ज्यादा नुक्सान उन किसानों का हो रहा है जिन्होंने दाम में तेजी की संभावना को देखते बासमती को घर पर ही स्टोर कर लिया था। उल्लेखनीय है कि 2 साल पहले लगभग 1600 रुपए किंवटल बिकने वाली बासमती इस बार 4000 से शुरू होकर 6000 को छू गई थी जिससे किसानों को पहली बार रिकार्ड रेट मिलते हुए जबरदस्त लाभ मिला था।

इस बार अनेक किसानों को एक एकड़ से लगभग 80-90 हजार की फसल प्राप्त हुई। बासमती में आई तेजी के कारण किसानों के चेहरे खिल उठे तथा कम दाम पर बासमती बेचने वाले किसानों को पछतावा भी हुआ। पिछले 3-4 दिनों में बासमती के दाम में लगभग 500 रुपए किंवटल कम हो जाने से अब यह 5,500 रुपए के आसपास बिक रही है। दाम में मंदी आने के कारण किसानों के साथ साथ उन व्यापारियों को भी नुक्सान उठाना पड़ सकता है जिन्होंने ऊंचे दाम पर बासमती की खरीद की थी।

मंदा-तेजी व्यापार का हिस्सा चावल एक्सपोर्ट करने वाले संजय सिंगला व आढ़ती नरेंद्र पुरी, कृष्ण अरोड़ा, सुनील कुमार व बंटा गर्ग ने बताया कि मंदा-तेजी व्यापार का हिस्सा है। संजय सिंगला ने कहा कि इस बार बासमती के रेटों ने इतिहास बनाया है तथा फिर से कब तेजी आ जाए इसके बारे में कहा नहीं जा सकता। वहीं किसान बलबीर सिंह व रणजीत सिंह ने कहा कि बासमती में मंदी आने से उनको नुक्सान हुआ है। बासमती धान की कीमतों में इस बार किसानों की बल्ले-बल्ले करवा दी जिसके चलते ठेके पर जमीन दिए जाने के भाव में भी तेजी आ गई है। पता चला है कि इस बार जमीन का ठेका पिछले साल की अपेक्षा 5 से 10 हजार रुपए प्रति एकड़ ज्यादा हो सकता है तथा ठेके पर जमीन लेकर खेती करने वाले किसानों ने अभी से जमीन की बुकिंग करवानी शुरू भी कर दी है।

सप्ताह के अंदर एक साथ 500 रुपए गिरे दाम पिपली (सुकरम): बारीक धान के दामों में आई तेजी से जहां किसानों के चेहरों पर मुस्कान नजर आने लगी थी, वहीं इस सप्ताह बासमती व 1121 किस्म की धान में आई भारी गिरावट ने बारीक धान का स्टोर करने वाले किसानों के चेहरों पर मायूसी जरूर ला दी है। बासमती धान जहां पिछले सप्ताह 6,000 रुपए प्रति किंवटल का आंकड़ा पार कर चुकी थी। वहीं दामों में गिरावट आने से बासमती 5,000 से 5,500 रुपए प्रति किंवटल बिकने लगी है। इसी प्रकार 1121 किस्म की धान में भी 200-से 300 रुपए की गिरावट आई है। हालांकि मुच्छल धान में भी 50 से 100 रुपए की गिरावट देखने में आई।

बारीक धान के खरीदार व्यापारी मनोज गुप्ता, अमृत लाल, राजकुमार, बीर सिंह, दीपांशु सिंगला, सुरेंद्र ढींगड़ा व राजु गुलियानी आदि व्यापारियों ने बताया कि बारीक धान के दामों में आई गिरावट ने व्यापारियों को भी एक दम सकते में डाल दिया है। उन्होंने बताया कि जिस ढंग से बासमती 6,000 हजार रुपए का आंकड़ा पार कर चुकी थी। उससे उसके दामों में ओर तेजी आने की संभावना थी लेकिन अब बारीक धान के दामों में बढ़ौतरी के बारे में कुछ नहीं कहा जा सकता। इस मौके पर मंडी प्रधान नरेंद्र पाल झांब, मामचंद मुकरपुर, दविंद्र पाल गंभीर, पूर्व सरपंच ललित मोहन सिंगला, पवन मदान व सुभाष जग्गा आदि व्यापारी मौजूद थे।

Courtesy : punjabkesari news Date: 16.11.2013


Punjab’s waiver of levies on basmati paddy purchase may encourage growers

 New Delhi, Nov. 15:  The Punjab Government’s recent move to waive levies on procurement of basmati paddy has put a section of the rice processing industry in a quandary not only in the State but also in neighbouring Haryana.

Punjab had waived levies to the extent of 7 per cent (2 per cent market fee, 2 per cent rural development fund and 3 per cent infrastructure cess) on purchase of basmati paddy for processing in the State.

Also, the value added tax of about 5 per cent has been waived on exports of basmati, besides imposition of a 5 per cent entry tax on basmati paddy entering from other States.
crop diversification

The latest move is aimed at encouraging the State’s food processing industry, while trying to discourage the cultivation of the water-intensive non-basmati paddy as part of the Government’s crop diversification programme, said D.V. Kapoor, General Secretary of the Punjab Rice Millers Association.

Also, it would help bring in more investments in the rice processing sector, while creating more jobs in the State, Kapoor, a miller in Jalandhar, said.
millers baffled

However, Anil Mittal, Chairman of KRBL Ltd, the country’s largest exporter, which has a basmati processing facility in the State, termed Punjab’s move of imposing an entry tax “as confusing.”

About 80 per cent of the basmati paddy grown in Punjab is the 1121 variety, while the traditional and Pusa basmati varieties account for the rest.

Large millers such as KRBL have to depend on States such as Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to meet their paddy requirement and the entry tax would make their raw material expensive.

Ajay Jakhar, President of the Bharat Krishak Samaj, said that the latest move would encourage rice growers to shift to basmati.
shift to basmati

“There would be at least 40-50 per cent increase in basmati area next year,” he said.

However, Jhakar believes that restricting buyers from neighbouring States may prove counter-productive, especially during a glut and when prices crash.

Farmers may not feel the impact this year because prices are ruling higher than last year.

“There should not be any curbs on the inter-State movement of agri-produce. Restricting the movement is like indirectly taxing the agricultural produce,” Jhakar said.
Cartel fears

Rice mills in Haryana, which depend on Punjab to meet a sizeable chunk of their paddy demand, are upset over the latest move.

“Reduced competition from buyers is a loss to farmers. Avoiding competition would lead to cartelisation of buyers in Punjab,” said Vijay Setia, Executive Director at Chaman Lal Setia Exports Ltd, which has processing units in Karnal and Amritsar, demanding a level-playing field.

However, Kapoor and KRBL’s Mittal dismissed fears of cartelisation.

“There are more than 500 millers in the State,” Kapoor said.

Punjab accounts for about 40 per cent of India’s basmati rice production estimated between 4 and 5 million tonnes.

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धान की आवक तेज, मंडी में लगा जाम

गोहाना (अरोड़ा): जींद रोड स्थित गोहाना की नई अनाज मंडी में पिछले चार-पांच दिन से धान की आवक अधिक होने के कारण किसानों को मंडी में फसल डालने के लिए जगह नहीं मिल रही है। मंडी और आसपास के क्षेत्र में धान की फसल से भरे वाहन जमा होने से जाम की समस्या बन गई है।

जाम की समस्या के चलते मंडी से फसल के उठान का काम भी ठप्प पड़ गया है। गोहाना की नई अनाज मंडी में वर्तमान सीजन में अभी तक साढ़े 4 लाख क्विटल से अधिक आवक हो चुकी है।

 मंडी में पिछले चार-पांच दिनों से प्रतिदिन 30 से 40,000 क्विटल धान की फसल की आवक हो रही है। मंडी में अधिक आवक होने के कारण चारों तरफ फसल से भरे वाहन जमा हो गए हैं। मंडी और आसपास की सड़कों पर दूर तक वाहनों की लम्बी कतारें लग गई हैं। मंडी के जींद रोड के बाईपास, बरोदा रोड, जींद रोड पर फसल से भरे वाहनों की लगभग एक किलोमीटर दूर तक लाइनें लग गई हैं।

मंगलवार को शहर में भी पूरा दिन जाम की समस्या नजर आई। मंडी में किसानों को फसल डालने के लिए भी जगह न मिलने से उनकी समस्या बढ़ गई है। किसान मंडी में पिछले 24 घंटे से वाहनों से फसल खाली करने के लिए जगह की तलाश कर रहे हैं। मंडी में भारी संख्या में वाहन जमा होने के कारण उठान का काम भी ठप्प पड़ गया है।

किसान अशोक, सुनील, नरेंद्र, महेंद्र सिंह व राम मेहर आदि ने कहा कि मंडी में जाम की समस्या से निजात दिलाने के लिए प्रशासन द्वारा कोई व्यवस्था नहीं की गई है। उचित व्यवस्था के अभाव में किसानों को भारी परेशानी का सामना करना पड़ रहा है। जाम की समस्या के चलते, जुलाना, जींद व सफीदों की तरफ जाने वाले वाहन चालक भी परेशान हैं।

Courtesy :Punjab kesari e-paper Dt:06.11.2013


Rice procurement unaffected by delayed rains

Rice procurement in Haryana and Punjab is in full swing, belying apprehensions of weak procurement due to delayed rains.

Haryana and Punjab begin harvesting rice before other states. This season, half the procurement in Punjab has already been completed.
Despite adverse weather conditions in certain parts of the country, rice procurement hasn't been hit, at least in the initial phase. Though procurement was delayed by two-three weeks in states in east and south India, owing to delayed rains, the yield wasn't affected.

For this financial year, the Centre has pegged paddy procurement at 51.3 million tonnes (mt). According to Food Corporation of India (FCI) estimates, about 8.1 mt of paddy has been procured in the initial phase.

An FCI source said floods in Odisha might affect procurement of the crop in that state. He added the estimates provided by state food secretaries were conservative ones and procurement in states that saw normal weather conditions might exceed these estimates.

Sources in the Central Rice Research Institute said long-duration varieties of the crop would recover from the floods, adding significant damage to the crop was unlikely.

On Thursday, a central team assessed the discoloration and damage to the crop in Punjab, owing to the delayed rains. The team would give its report in three-four days, FCI sources said

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Paddy in Punjab trails by 18 per cent

 Paddy procurement in Punjab is trailing by 18 per cent compared to last year's purchase as procurement agencies are refusing to buy crop citing high moisture content and discoloured grains in the State.

Though farmers seeking relaxation in crop procurement norms in the wake of fetching lesser prices for their crop, the State Agriculture Department officials said there could be 5 per cent drop in paddy yield due to inclement weather conditions prevailed during the start of paddy purchase season.

“Paddy purchase got delayed due to higher moisture content in the crop caused by untimely rain this season,” a senior official of Food Corporation of India (FCI) said on Thursday.

In the ongoing kharif marketing season, Government-owned procurement agencies have so far procured 19.27 lakh tonnes (LT) of crop in Punjab which is 18 per cent lower than 23.63 LT crop bought in corresponding period of last season. Punjab expects to procure 130 LT of paddy in the current season. The level of moisture content in paddy arrivals was found to be more than 20 per cent which is in excess of permissible limit of 17 per cent, officials said. Because of higher moisture content and discoloured grains, procurement agencies are refusing to buy crop, farmers alleged. “We expect crop procurement to pick up in coming days with weather conditions turning clear,” the FCI official said. Major problem of non-procurement of paddy was witnessed at Amritsar, Kapurthala and Patiala, officials said.

Rice millers have also refused to buy crop, saying that the quality of rice gets affected because of crop with high moisture content. “We face problem in converting paddy to rice with crop having higher level of moisture content, thus affecting rice quality,” Punjab Rice Millers’ Association president Tarsem Saini said. Punjab Agriculture Department has also acknowledged that there were chances of up to five per cent drop in overall yield of paddy because of untimely rains.

“Wherever the crop has got flattened, the grains have turned discoloured. Therefore, there are chances of dip in yield,” a department official said.

Punjab is expecting 160-162 lakh tonne of paddy output with 27.73 lakh acres of paddy area. Farmers claimed that they were forced to sell paddy at lesser rate than MSP as procurement agencies and rice millers were refusing to buy crop.

“Farmers at several places are forced to sell crop at Rs 1,000-1,200 per quintal as against MSP of 1,345 per quintal,” Bhartiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal said.

BKU has sought from the Centre to relax norms for higher moisture content and discoloured grains during paddy purchase.

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Basmati under bacteria attack, yield to lessen

Bacterial leaf blight has launched a massive attack on the basmati crop in the district which will cause decrease in yield and quality of the crop, said director, Directorate of Rice Development,Patna, Bihar MC Divakar at the fields of farmer Dhir Singh in Talwandi Rama village of Dera Baba Nanak sub division of Gurdaspur district on Friday after inspecting the disease affected basmati crop fields.

Divakar said normally PUSA 1121 variety of basmati has the potentiality of surviving this disease, but unfavourable weather conditions have made the disease acute.

He said this disease had attacked the basmati crop grown in Dhariwal, Kalanaur and Dera Baba Nanak blocks. Speaking on the signs of the bacterial leaf blight disease, Divakar said first the leaves went dry from the upper part to the lower part.

"If watched closely, the plants, early in the morning like dew drops on leaves, bacteria can be seen clinging in the shape of water drops to edges of the leaves,"he said.

He added that this disease spread with the strong winds accompanied by rains. "The disease spread with the rain water and irrigational water standing on the fields for days,"he added.
Divakar said this disease caused more loss if it attacked the crop at the time of flowering and enrichment of the grains because the new leaves got completely dried and the plants did not get proper nourishment.

Gurdaspur chief agriculture officer Ravi Kumar Sabharwal said basmati crop grew on 69,000 hectares in the district this season.

He said there was no remedy to this disease at this stage. "Basmati growers of the district should immediately drain out the standing water from their fields. Do not spray any insecticides on the affected crops. Consult the agriculture development officer of their respective area before adopting any remedy,"said Sabharwal.

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In Malwa, officials preparing for record paddy arrival

The Punjab agriculture department might be claiming to have cut down the area under paddy by 70,000 hectare this season, but the officials of the department of food and supplies are preparing to send more paddy for milling as compared to the last year.

Authorities in Bathinda are expecting 12% more paddy arrival than 8.6 lakh MT, which was procured in the last season.

Similarly, the targeted procurement in the current paddy season has been estimated at 6.26 lakh MT against 5.57 lakh MT last year in Faridkot district. There are 67 purchase centres in Faridkot, which have been allotted to different agencies for procurement and all arrangements such as drinking water, shade and light have been made. Early varieties of paddy like PR-111 are already being procured by the private traders and rates have been higher than `1,345, the MSP for paddy. It remains to be seen if the shortage of paddy bags will pose a problem this year too?

Farmers have cultivated paddy on 1.62 lakh hectare in Moga, Baghapurana, Nihal Singh Wala and Dharamkot sub-divisions in Moga district, while it was cultivated on nearly 1.72 lakh hectare in 2012.

Moga agriculture development officer Jaswinder Singh Brar said, "I hope that farmers will get bumper paddy crop because during this season there has been no pest attack on paddy and basmati." Dhanvir Singh, district mandi officer, said paddy will arrive in Moga is estimated at around 7 lakh MT against 7.6 lakh MT last year. There are 105 purchase centres in the district.

In Mansa district, against 4.5 lakh MT paddy procured last year, agencies are expecting 5 lakh MT paddy in the markets this year.

Mansa district food and supplies controller Nirmal Singh said, "The space to store paddy is surplus. We can store at least 70,000 MT more. There are around 160 rice shellers in Mansa district. We have around 78,000 hectares of area under paddy in the district."

Around 9.5 lakh MT paddy arrival is expected in 128 grain markets in the current procurement season in the border district of Ferozepur as against 8.7 lakh MT last year. Covered godowns with a capacity of 55,000 MT are there at Ferozepur and with 40,000 MT capacity at Makhu, which may help ease the paddy procurement process in the current season.

Meanwhile, in Fazilka district, more than 90% paddy growers had opted for basmati (1121), due to which there would be negligible paddy procurement.

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79 dist mandis in set for paddy procurement

Mandi board has established 79 mandis in the district to produce expected arrival of 8.78-lakh MT of paddy during the procurement season, which began on October 1.

"We have set up 79 mandis including 75 at permanent venue and four at makeshift places, where the necessary facilities including power connection and drinking water are there for visiting farmers," district mandi officer, Harinder Randhawa told HT.

Although appropriate arrangements have been made in 75 mandis, in four temporary mandis at Bhode Samrai village, where a diary farm has been converted into a mandi, Jamsher, where panchayat has provided land on temporary basis and Kang Khurd and Mehrajwala villages of Lohian Khas, some problems are still on, but efforts have been taken to provide basic amenities on temporary basis in such mandis too, he added.

Minimum support price (MSP) has been declared by the union government as `1310 per quintal for normal paddy and `1345 per quintal for 'A' grade paddy, Randhawa said.

While taking round of the main grain market of the district by HT team, it was found that paddy has already started arriving in the city and farmers are spending night in the mandi itself waiting for early procurement on the first day.

However, in spite of the claims of Mandi Board for making elaborate arrangement for paddy procurement, it is not likely to be a smooth affair, as rice millers have threatened not to participate in the procurement process, if relaxation in specification of paddy is not given.

"I have visited several mandis and paddy fields for inspection of the crop and it are found that due to rain, standing crop of paddy was damaged resulting in its discoloring," said president of the Punjab Rice Millers Association, Rakesh Jain.

He added that unless relaxation in the specification of the crop is announced, it is not possible for the rice millers to participate in the process.

The association has called a meeting of the general house on October 2, in which final decision on participation in the procurement process would be taken, he added.

Distribution share among the six procurement agencies has already been decided, according to which Pungrain will procure the maximum share of paddy of 25% followed by Punsup (23%), Markfed (22%), Punjab Warehousing Corporation (11%), Punjab Agro (9%) and Food Corporation of India (10%) in the district.

District food and civil supplies controller, Rakesh Singla said last year total procurement of paddy was 7.85-lakh MT and this year 8.78 -lakh MT is expected.

As far as allotment of paddy to the rice millers is concerned, out of total 67 rice mills in the district, so far 41 have been tied up for the storage and milling, he said.

"Although, bumper crop was expected in this season, but recent spell of heavy rain has ruined at least 10 to 15% of the standing crop," Singla said.

All the procurement agencies have been provided with the required gunny bags and they have also made appropriate arrangements of lifting as well as storage of paddy, he added.

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Deficit rain may sow crop worries

If there are lesser rains in August and September, trouble could be in store for farmers of Haryana.Officials of the meteorological department said the state, so far, was almost 28% rain deficit this season.

Surender Paul, director of the meteorological department, told Hindustan Times that so far the monsoon had been normal in Punjab and Chandigarh. “But, Haryana is rain deficit by 28%. Some parts of the state are rain deficit by nearly 70%,” he said.

Officials said Chandigarh had received normal rainfall in the first half of monsoon (June-July) at 423.8 mm (actual rain) against normal 394.5mm.

In Punjab, normal rainfall should be 223.3mm and this year actual rainfall in the state has been recorded 236.6mm. But, in Haryana, actual rainfall is 146.5mm against normal 203.4mm, almost 28% less.

“For now, there are no worry signs. We are expecting a normal monsoon season ahead. But, if there are lesser rains, there can be problems for the state farmers,” Paul said.

He said lesser rains have not affected sowing of kharif crops as there was an early onset of monsoon this year, which facilitated the transplantation of paddy and other standing kharif crops.

The meteorological department data shows that while Panipat has been 71% rain deficit, Rohtak is 69%, followed by Sirsa 57% in Haryana.Interestingly, Yamunanagar received 32% more rainfall than the normal.

In Punjab, the meteorological data shows that there has been above-normal rain throughout the state with Gurdaspur receiving highest rainfall, 34% above normal, followed by Ropar receiving 31% above normal.

In the year 2012, the first half of monsoon witnessed 132 mm rains in Haryana, 187 mm in Punjab and 276.2 mm rains in Chandigarh in the months of June and July.

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Foot rot a serious bottleneck in successful cultivation of basmati rice in Punjab: Punjab Agricultural University

 LUDHIANA: Foot rot, a fungal diseaseis a serious bottleneck in the successful cultivation of basmati rice in the Punjab State, say scientists at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU). The diseases if not checked can cause tremendous losses to yield.

The disease can be recognized by the elongation of affected plants in the nursery as well as in the field after transplantation. The affected plants turn yellow and do not produce any grain, and are ultimately die in the field. Roots are also formed from the lower nodes of the plants.

The surveys conducted by the scientists of the Punjab Agricultural University have revealed that the disease has started appearing in certain pockets of the villages in Bakhatpur (Kalanaur), Lakhanpur in Gurdaspur district, and Muchhlan, Jausmera in Amritsar district. A few reports of its occurrence have also been received from Patiala district. The University has recommended the protective seed treatment with solution of Bavistin (20g)+ Streptocycline (1g) in 10 litres of water before sowing of nursery and seedling root dip treatment in 0.2% (2gram/litre) solution of Bavistin before transplanting, the time for which has already passed.

Scientists of PAU have observed that In order to check this disease in the field, the farmers have started application of Sanjivani ( Trichoderma ) and Bavistin (carbendazim) mixed with sand which is a wasteful practice.

"So, it is advised to the farmers that post application of this treatment would not control this disease and it would unnecessarily result in increase in the cost of cultivation. Instead, they are advised to uproot the affected plants and replace them with new seedlings (if available) after treating in the 0.2% (2g/litre) solution of Bavistin (Carbendazim)," says a PAU advisory. "Another strategy which would be helpful to check this disease in future is the production of disease free seed. The same can be obtained by spraying 200 ml. of Tilt 25EC in 200 litres of water at boot stage of the crop. This seed can be used for the next year crop".

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The paddy variety Punjab cannot get rid of

 Punjab is finding it difficult to keep farmers away from what scientists call "anti-environment, water-guzzling, long-duration paddy", though the Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, has developed a number of environment-friendlier varieties.

In a state where the groundwater table is fast getting depleted, farmers still prefer PUSA 44, a variety the government strongly discourages though it has not banned it. Ahead of the paddy season this year, a number of camps were organised to encourage farmers to choose other varieties. Yet is is PUSA 44 that has been sown on around 30 to 40 per cent of the area under paddy cultivation in Punjab. In Patiala, Sangrur and Barnala districts, more than 70 per cent of the area is under PUSA 44, says agriculture development officer (enforcement wing), Patiala, Dr A S Mann.
Eight or nine varieties of rice have been sown in Punjab this year on 27 lakh hectares, a coverage almost as wide as the 27.50 lakh hectares of last year. This has been despite the fact that the state has set itself a target of decreasing the area under rice by 10 lakh hectares. Experts feel this can be achieved only by sowing a short-duration variety.
PAU provided seeds of two newly developed varieties -- PR 121 and PR 122 – with an average yield of 76 and 79 quintals respectively per hectare. The output of P-122 is almost as high as that of PUSA 44; besides, it takes less time and is also disease-resistant. It failed to keep the majority of the state's farmers away from PUSA 44, which requires at least three weeks more to mature than the recommended varieties do. PUSA means more water, more insecticide and more pesticide.
"The PAU-recommended varieties save water as these mature in 130 to 140 days, almost 25 days faster than PUSA 44, which is also prone to bacterial leaf blight disease. Yet the demand for PUSA 44 is huge," says Dr Gurdyal Singh, joint director, Food Security Mission, Punjab.
Punseed, a government agency, has sold 1,400 quintals of PUSA 44 seeds this year as against 585 quintals of the variety 118 and 185 quintals of 114. Punseed general manager Sarabjit Singh Kandhari says both 118 and 114 are recommended by PAU.
According to the chief agriculture officer, Jalandhar, Dr. Swatantar Aery, "Punjab needs not only to decrease the area under paddy cultivation but also to decrease the area under PUSA 44, which is highly environment-unfriendly."
In Jalandhar the demand for PUSA 44 has been so high that farmers managed to sow 30 per cent of the total area with this variety despite the fact that it is no available with the agriculture department. "For farmers, yield is more important than anything else," says Jatinder Singh, a farmer from Jalandhar. With PUSA 44, a five-acre farm will yield 160 to 170 quintals (80 to 85 quintals per hectare) as compared to 140 to 150 quintals from other varieties. "There is a need to develop another variety that needs less time to mature and whose yield equals that of PUSA 44," says another farmer, Avtar Singh.
"PUSA 44 gives 9 to 10 quintals more per hectare," says Harjit Singh, also of Jalandhar, who has sown PR 121 and PR 122 too on a small patch, "just as an experiment".
Dr Naresh Gulati, deputy director, Agriculture Technology Management Agency, says "At the camps we organised, we promoted only the recommended varieties such as PR 121, PR 122, 118, 114, and 116 which save water, but farmers still ended up sowing PUSA 44 on more then 30 per cent of their area."
Rakesh Jain, president of the Punjab Rice Shellers' Association, says, "As per our survey, PUSA 44 is a high-yield variety and farmers need more grain from less space." Another advantage, he adds, is that there is less breakage in its seed at the time of shelling.


Heavy rain brings cheer to Faridkot farmers

Faridkot, Punjab : The district received a heavy rain on Thursday morning bringing a smile on the faces of farmers and locals.Farmers, who had been getting less than six hours of power supply daily, had been desperate to save the paddy crop.

Chief agriculture officer Sukhwant Singh Sran said, "Faridkot has received 74mm rain, which is welcome for crops like paddy and cotton."

He said the rain was equally good for reducing the pest attack on cotton and paddy.

The district has grown paddy and cotton on most area; besides, the transplantation of basmati has nearly finished.

"In Punjab, the absence of rain for a brief period leads to drought-like situation as it is a fully agrarian state and most of the area is under cultivation. But strangely, heavy showers lead to flood-like situation. When it rains heavily, the fields fill with water and we also let most of the precious rainwater go waste as there is no rain harvesting system," said a Faridkot resident.

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Punjab millers want rice delivery period extended till August

 Chandigarh, July 3:  With over 5 lakh tonnes of rice yet to be delivered to the central pool, millers in Punjab have asked the state government to seek extension for delivery till August from the Centre.

Millers under the banner of Punjab Rice Millers Association raised this demand during a meeting with state Food and Civil Supplies Adesh Partap Singh Kairon yesterday.

“We have urged from the state government to seek extension in rice delivery period from the Centre till August 31 so that we can deliver the balance 5.5 lakh tonne of rice to the central kitty,” Association’s President Tarsem Saini said on Wednesday.

Punjab rice millers were supposed to deliver 85.69 lakh ton custom milled rice by June 30 to the Central pool for 2012-13 paddy season. However, 5.50 lakh tonne is still to be delivered by the millers.

Millers attributed the non-delivery of balance rice to shortage of labour due to paddy sowing and space crunch for storing the crop.

They feared that they would be heavily penalised if the delivery period was not extended. Last month, Punjab government had asked the millers to deliver rice by June 30 and if they failed to deliver their quota of rice to the central kitty, then state government would be charging whopping Rs 2,600 per quintal from defaulting rice millers.

It had also warned that defaulting millers would not get paddy for coming season if they failed in delivering rice for the 2012-13 period.

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Punjab millers want rice delivery period extended till August

 Chandigarh, July 3:  With over 5 lakh tonnes of rice yet to be delivered to the central pool, millers in Punjab have asked the state government to seek extension for delivery till August from the Centre.

Millers under the banner of Punjab Rice Millers Association raised this demand during a meeting with state Food and Civil Supplies Adesh Partap Singh Kairon yesterday.

“We have urged from the state government to seek extension in rice delivery period from the Centre till August 31 so that we can deliver the balance 5.5 lakh tonne of rice to the central kitty,” Association’s President Tarsem Saini said on Wednesday.

Punjab rice millers were supposed to deliver 85.69 lakh ton custom milled rice by June 30 to the Central pool for 2012-13 paddy season. However, 5.50 lakh tonne is still to be delivered by the millers.

Millers attributed the non-delivery of balance rice to shortage of labour due to paddy sowing and space crunch for storing the crop.

They feared that they would be heavily penalised if the delivery period was not extended. Last month, Punjab government had asked the millers to deliver rice by June 30 and if they failed to deliver their quota of rice to the central kitty, then state government would be charging whopping Rs 2,600 per quintal from defaulting rice millers.

It had also warned that defaulting millers would not get paddy for coming season if they failed in delivering rice for the 2012-13 period.

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Punjab area under 'direct paddy' to rise 2.5 times

Having got wider acceptance from farmers across the state, the area under direct seeding for paddy in Punjab is likely to touch 50,000 hectares in the ongoing kharif season, a two-and-half-fold rise on the last year. Direct seeding was on 20,000 hectares last year.

Direct seeding of paddy can save 25-30 per cent of water in the fields. It involves direct sowing of seeds in the field. As a result, the yield per hectare rises. Besides, it reduces cultivation cost by Rs 5,000-6,000 a hectare.

Traditionally, paddy is grown by planting seeds in a small nursery and then the saplings are transplanted after four weeks to the cultivation area. The saplings are allowed to grow and the fields are kept under three to four inches of water, to reduce weed growth. This 'puddle irrigation' needs a lot of water. Since paddy cultivation is water-intensive, this has resulted in a decline of the water table in Punjab.

Direct seeding has the environmental benefit of reducing emission of greenhouse gases such as methane. Also, it improves soil porosity that can raise productivity of the succeeding crop.

Mangal Singh Sidhu, director, agriculture department of Punjab, said the state had started a campaign to make farmers aware about the benefits of direct paddy plantation. Apart from that government was also providing financial benefits to farmers and National Food Security Mission for direct paddy plantation.

In Punjab, acting on the recommendations of Ludhiana-based Punjab Agricultural University not only the state government is making efforts to reach out to farmers for wider acceptance of the technology but also corporates, NGOs and even farmers are actively promoting this technology.

With combined efforts the state government is hopeful that the total area under this methodology would may cross 50,000 hectares during this season. It is expected that in the the current season 27.50 lakh hectare areas would be covered under paddy cultivation, against 28.18 lakh hectares during the last season.

It is worth mentioning that in order to popularise the technology, Pepsico India in 2006, started the direct seeding methodolgy and carried out trial in the fields of 12 farmers, covering about 20 acres and now it covers about over thousands of acres under this technology. Also, Bayer Crop Science, India and Punjab State Co-operative Supply and Marketing Federation (Markfed) signed a formal MoU in 2010 to collaborate to promote and develop complete package of Direct Seeded Rice in the state to save depleted water.

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Direct sowing of paddy: Scientists try hard, farmers not willing

CHANDIGARH: Even as Punjab agriculture department and agricultural scientists have been making efforts to promote direct sowing of paddy to save underground water and power as well, the farmers are least interested in adopting such techniques.

They are afraid that due to such problems like weeds will lead to decrease in yield.

Another problem which farmers cite is shortage of sowing machines. So far, only one machine has been provided in each block under Union government’s Agriculture Technology Management Agency scheme. The government needs to provide more machines to the farmers through cooperative societies to tackle this problem.

One of the farmers practicing direct sowing of paddy for the past three years said the biggest problem of direct sowing was growth of weeds. He said he had to regularly use weedicides to protect the crop.

“To avoid threat from weeds, we must be provided information on herbicide resistance management and crop rotation,” he said.

Agro-scientist Dr Jaswinder Singh Brar said farmers needed to be equipped with technical knowhow for direct sowing and control weeds.

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Agri policy takes root: Area under basmati increases, paddy decreases

Amritsar, Punjab : The area under basmati in Amritsar this year will cross 1 lakh hectares, an increase of 13,500 hectares over last year, while the area under paddy will fall from 97,000 hectares to 81,000 hectares. Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur are major basmati growing areas not only in Punjab, but also in
the country.

Under the new agriculture policy prepared by the Punjab Farmers Commission, the area under paddy is proposed to be cut down by about 12 lakh hectares in the state. This proposal was mooted taking into consideration falling groundwater table, with paddy being targeted as it requires a huge quantity of water, which is met, mostly from tubewells.

The two varieties which are expected to occupy almost 80 percent of the area under basmati, not only in Amritsar district but also in the entire state, are Pusa – 1121 and Pusa – 1509. The traditional aromatic varieties like Punjab Basmati 1, Punjab Basmati 2 and Basmati 386 are also expected to occupy some of the area as these are in great demand by rice millers for export. PUSA-1509 is being introduced for the first time in the country.

PUSA 1509, is long grained like 1121, the earlier popular variety, but it will give a higher yield, which will touch 23-24 quintals per acre. In such a scenario the farmers are expected to go in for the new variety.

Being a short duration variety, PUSA-1509 will mature early and require less water. It will require at least six irrigations less than the 1121.

All India Rice Exporters Association and the union ministries concerned have also approved PUSA 1509 and the necessary notification on according it the basmati status has been issued, so that farmers have no doubt in their minds about the status of this variety.

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