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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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India May Import Rice by 2016-17, Says Government Report

India may have to import about 4 – 12 million tons of rice by 2016-17 if the nation's rice production target of an additional 10 million tons by 2016-17 is not met, according to a report by the Planning Commission of India.

The total demand for food grains in India is likely to reach around 257 million tons by 2016-17, the report says. The Planning Commission projects supply of food grains to increase up to 272 million tons by 2016-17. However, much of the surplus is likely to be seen in wheat and coarse cereals, while rice production is likely to fall short of the estimated demand.

India annual rice consumption is projected at around 110 million tons by 2016-17. However, rice production may remain between 98 – 106 million tons, according to Planning Commission projections, which suggests that India may have to import around 4 – 12 million tons of rice by 2016-17. At present, India produces around 104 million tons of rice and is the world's largest rice exporter with about 10 million tonss of exports.

However, the Planning Commission report says that shrinking land base, dwindling water resources, the adverse impact of climate change, shortage of farm labor, and increasing costs are formidable challenges facing India’s agriculture sector. The Indian government is also encouraging farmers to grow more pulses and oilseeds instead of rice to reduce surplus rice production and lower imports of oilseeds and pulses. For 2013-14, the government increased the minimum support price (MSP) for rice by around 5% compared to around 11 - 13% for pulses and oilseeds.

Under the National Food Security Mission (NFSM), the Indian government is targeting an additional 25 million tons of food grains (including 10 million tons of rice, 10 million tons of wheat, 3 million tons of pulses and 2 million tons of millet) under the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-17). The Planning Commission says that all these targets are less than what was actually achieved during the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2006- 11). The Agriculture Ministry says that various schemes run by the government are very successful and have helped exceed food grain production target of an additional 25 million tons under the Eleventh Plan.


Protect crops from disease, officials advise farmers

A total of 1.28 lakh hectares of land have been covered under samba cultivation during the current season in the district.

Direct sowing was done on 70,264 hectares of land. Of the 58,148 hectares covered under transplantation method, 23,842 hectares were covered under conventional method and SRI method of cultivation was adopted on 34,306 hectares, District Collector S. Natarajan said while addressing the farmers grievances day meeting here on Thursday.

A total of 18,394 hectares of land had been brought under Kuruvai cultivation in the district during the current season — SRI method 12,176 hectares, direct sowing 274 hectares, and transplantation method 5,944 hectares.

Thaladi transplantation has been completed on 18,358 hectares of land, — 8,693 hectares under conventional method and 9,665 hectares under SRI.

The samba and thaladi crops are in an advanced matured stage. They are prone to some kind of disease. The Collector advised farmers to take up crop protection strategy by applying pesticides.

The Collector said the district experienced a rainfall of 150.74 mm. so far in December, against a normal rainfall of 175.28 mm.

Referring to the extension of financial assistance to farmers, Mr. Natarajan said the nationalised banks had targeted to extend crop loans to the tune of Rs. 1,81,138 lakh. Thanjavur District Central Cooperative Bank targeted to provide Rs. 6,500 lakhs worth crop loans, of which 5,062.10 lakh had been distributed to 17,755 farmers, Rs. 2,341 lakh as jewellery loans to 6,772 farmers.

The Kumbakonam District Central Cooperative Bank targeted to extend Rs. 7,500 lakh as crop loan and had so far sanctioned Rs. 6,846.89 lakh to 20,762 farmers as crop loans, and Rs. 2,497.17 lakh as jewellery loan to 4,803 farmers.

The government recently opened 62 direct procurement centres in the district in addition to 16 centres existing. During the kharif season, 2013-14, 16,928 tonnes of paddy had been procured by these centres.

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సన్న బియ్యానికి రెక్కలు

సూర్యాపేట : సాంబమసూరి ధాన్యానికి మార్కెట్‌లో డిమాండ్ పెరిగింది. ప్రభుత్వ మద్దతు ధర క్వింటాకు రూ.1500 కాగా అంతకుపైగానే ధర పలుకుతుంది. జిల్లాలో ప్రధానంగా వరికి దోమకాటు రావడంతో దిగుబడి తగ్గింది. ఆయకట్టు ప్రాంతాలలో బాగా దోమ కాటుకు గురైన వరి పొలాలను కనీసం కోత కోయకుండా వదిలేశారు. నాన్ ఆయకట్టు ప్రాంతాలలో దోమకాటు ప్రభావానికి గురై ఎకరాకు 30 నుంచి 35 బస్తాల దిగుబడి రావాల్సిన ధాన్యం 20 నుంచి 25 బస్తాలకే పరిమితమైంది. గత సీజన్‌లో రైతులు రూ.1500లకే క్వింటా ధాన్యాన్ని అమ్ముకున్నారు. రైతులు అమ్ముకున్న తర్వాత ధర పెరుగుతుంది. సూర్యాపేట వ్యవసాయ మార్కెట్‌కు గురువారం 12037 బస్తాల ధాన్యం రాగా దీనిలో 6734 ధాన్యం సాంబమసూరి వచ్చింది. ఐఆర్‌సీ 64రకం 4543, 1001రకం 462 బస్తాలు, స్వర్ణ మసూరి 338బస్తాలు అమ్మకానికి వచ్చింది. వ్యవసాయ మార్కెట్‌లో సాంబమసూరికి గరిష్ఠ ధర క్వింటాకు రూ.1738 పలకగా, కనిష్టంగా 1218, మధ్యరకంగా రూ.1581ధర ఖరీదుదార్లు టెండర్లు వేశారు. కొన్ని మిల్లుల్లో ఖరీదుదారులు నేరుగా రూ.1700కు పైగానే ధర చెల్లించి కొనుగోలు చేస్తున్నారు. ప్రస్తుతం బహిరంగ మార్కెట్‌లో సాంబమసూరి సన్నబియ్యం ధర క్వింటాకు రూ.2,600 నుంచి 2,800 దాకా పలుకుతుంది. మరి కొన్ని రోజుల్లో క్వింటా రూ.3 వేలకు పైగా చేరిన ఆశ్చర్యపోనవసరం లేదు.

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मनपसंद केंद्रों पर धान बेच सकेंगे किसान

जागरण संवाददाता, इलाहाबाद : किसानों को धान बेचने के लिए अपने न्याय पंचायत या ग्राम पंचायत से संबद्ध धान क्रय केंद्र पर ही जाने की जरूरत नहीं है। अब किसान अपनी सुविधानुसार क्रय केंद्र चुन सकते हैं। खाद्य विभाग ने क्रय एजेंसियों के सभी धान क्रय केंद्रों की ग्राम व न्याय पंचायतों से संबद्धता समाप्त कर दी है। जिला खाद्य विपणन अधिकारी केके सिंह ने बताया कि जनपद के किसी भी गांव का किसान अपना धान किसी भी क्रय केंद्र पर बेच सकता है।

किसानों को बिचौलियों से बचाने के लिए खरीफ विपणन वर्ष 2013-14 के लिए क्रय नीति की घोषणा की गई है। इसके तहत मूल्य समर्थन योजना चलाई गई। किसानों को धान का वाजिब दाम दिलाने के लिए क्रय एजेंसियों को ग्राम पंचायतों से संबद्ध धान क्रय केंद्र खोले जाने की व्यवस्था की गई। इसके तहत गांव के किसान अपने ही गांव से संबद्ध क्रय केंद्र पर ही धान बेच सकते थे। जिला खाद्य विपणन अधिकारी के अनुसार अब इस व्यवस्था को खत्म करते हुए किसानों को अपना मनपसंद केंद्र चुनने की छूट दी गई है। किसानों की सुविधा के लिए धान क्रय केंद्रों की संबद्धता को समाप्त किया जा रहा है।

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Millers clamp down on rice release to hold prices

Karnal, Dec. 26:  The rice market is likely to rule without much change on account of steady demand and ample stocks in the coming days, said trade experts.

With trading being lukewarm in the market, prices of almost all the varieties except Sharbati (steam) remained unchanged .

Amit Chandna, Proprietor of Hanuman Rice Trading Company, told Business Line that domestic demand has failed to pick up and hence, rice millers are releasing limited stocks in the market to keep prices stable.

Trading has been lacklustre since mid-December, he said.

According to trade experts, the market is likely to rule around current levels over the next few days and may witness some alteration in the first week of January. In the physical market, Pusa-1121 (steam) sold at Rs 8,400-8,500, while Pusa-1121 (sela) quoted at Rs 7,500 a quintal.

Pure Basmati (Raw) quoted at Rs 12,500. Duplicate basmati (steam) sold at Rs 7,300.

Sharbati (Steam) dropped by Rs 200 and sold at Rs 4,800 while Sharbati (Sela) was quoted at Rs 4,500.

Permal (raw) sold at Rs 2,300, Permal (sela) at Rs 2,350, PR-11 (sela) sold at Rs 3,100 while PR-11 (Raw) was at Rs 2,950. PR14 (steam) sold at Rs 3,200.
Paddy arrivals

Around 20,000 bags of Pusa-1121 arrived and sold at Rs 3,850-4,000, 5,000 bags of Sharbati arrived and sold at Rs 2,100-2,320, while around 5,000 bags of Suagndha-999 went for Rs 2,600-75 a quintal.

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Rice basmati rises on stockists buying

Prices of rice basmati rose by Rs 200 per quintal at the wholesale grains market today on stockists buying against slowdown in arrivals from producing regions.

However, other grains ruled steady in scattered deals.

Traders said stockists buying following rising demand against restricted arrivals from producing belts mainly pushed up rice basmati prices.

In the national capital, rice basmati common and Pusa-1121 variety rose by Rs 200 each to Rs 8,600-8,800 and Rs 7,950-8,450 per quintal, respectively.

The following were today's quotations per quintal:

Wheat MP (deshi) 2,070-2,270, Wheat dara (for mills) 1,660-1,665, Chakki atta (delivery) 1,665-1,670 Atta Rajdhani (10 kg) 220, Shakti bhog (10 kg) 220, Roller flour mill 920-930 (50 kg), Maida 970-990 (50 kg) and Sooji 1,010-1,030 (50kg).

Basmati rice (Lal Quila) 10,400, Shri Lal Mahal 10,000, Super Basmati Rice, 9,500, Basmati common new 8,600-8,800, Rice Pusa-(1121) new 7,950-8,450, Permal raw 2,100-2,200, Permal wand 2,275-2,300, Sela 2,950-2,975 and Rice IR-8- 1,875-1,900, Bajra 1,320-1,325, Jowar yellow 1,400-1,450, white 2,300-2,500, Maize 1,405-1,410, Barley 1,400-1,410, Rajasthan 1,080-1,090.

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Acharya N.G. Ranga Agriculture University takes up research on developing the new varieties

Acharya N.G. Ranga Agriculture University has taken up research on development of diabetic-friendly rice varieties in collaboration with private industries, University Vice-Chancellor Alluri Padma Raju disclosed here on Saturday.

Mr. Raju was speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of a meeting of rice millers, peasant representatives and agricultural scientists conducted by the Agricultural Research Station (ARS) at Maruteru for popularising new paddy varieties.

“Scientists are on the job of building glycemic indices (GIs) with the data on how much carbohydrates in each existing rice variety raises a person’s blood glucose levels after consuming the particular variety,” he said. As of now, 40 rice varieties were available with the researchers and 14 of them were found to be having anti-diabetic properties. Of them, BPT-5204, popularly known as Samba Masuri, was found to be more friendlier to diabetics, Mr. Raju explained.

The research strategies involved collection of anti-diabetic genes from different varieties and introduced them in the select varieties by way of selective breeding through the marker identification method.

Diabetes was fast spreading and people even below 30 years were falling prey to the disease, of late. The breakthrough, if achieved in the on-going research, would be a boon for the people prone to diabetics caused by food habits, among others, in a country where rice consumption accounted for more than 80 per cent, he hoped.

The Samba Masuri was identified as an ideal variety for projection as more diabetic friendly given its ‘admirable’ strains such as easy to cook and preservation without becoming stale for a long time after cooking and non-sticky in nature, Mr. Raju said.

The V-C informed that the gale-resistant paddy varieties, need of the hour in the cyclone-prone Godavari delta region, were likely to be released in April next, facilitating sowing for the next kharif. The research had been in progress for the last 4-5 years and it was currently under trial in different stages, he added. If these new breeds hit the markets, the paddy growers would be relieved of the miseries caused by the predominant variety of Swarna in view of its susceptibility to lodging at times of cyclones, he said.



Good Rains Raise Hopes of Bumper Rabi Crop for Nellore District Farmers

Paddy farmers of the district who failed to get expected yield during kharif season due to poor rainfall coupled with non-supply of water, are now pinning their hopes on rabi crop as the district recorded good amount of rain. However, the acreage of paddy cultivation has come down in rabi season  as the farmers in upland areas were not sure of water to the fields.

Paddy was cultivated in just 32,241 hectares in kharif as against 62,001 hectares normal cultivation area. Nearly  1.88 lakh metric tonnes of paddy was yielded from kharif operations, official figures said.

In rabi season, which began in October, 11.68 metric tonnes of paddy was expected  in 1,17,198 hectares against the normal acreage of 1,98,135 hectares. According to officials, nearly 13 paddy varieties like BPT 5204 (Nellore Zilakara), Samba Masuri, Subbaiah Buddalu, M3 1010, NLR 3041, NLR 34449, NLR33892, ER1009, ADT 37, ADT43, Sona masuri, Kurnool variety and others are grown in the district, most important of them being Samba Masuri which is being cultivated in 12,800 hectares in rabi.

Agriculture joint director KV Subba Rao said that only 270 mm rainfall was recorded against 660 mm rainfall this year. However, with good inflows from upward areas, the reservoirs in the district have good inflows and officials are expecting good yields this season.

There is 56.821 tmc of water against full capacity of 78 tmc water level in Somasila reservoir, 9.40 feet against 12 feet capacity in Sarvepalli reservoir, about 18.60 feet against 21.45 feet in Kanigiri reservoir and 16.20 feet against 16.30 feet water is available in the current rabi season.

However, he said that there will be a setback to paddy cultivation under rainfed tanks and borewells in Udayagiri, Vinjamuru, Seetharamapuram, Msarripadu, Kondapuram, Duthaluru, Anumasamudrapupeta, Rapur and other areas because of drastic fall in groundwater levels.

‘’Despite recent heavy and incessant rains due to Helen, Leher, Phailin cyclones in the state, Nellore district did not get sufficient rains ,” he said.

However, rice millers say paddy farmers have secured 13.65 lakh metric tones of paddy during kharif while the yield would be 15.50 lakh metric tonnes during rabi in the district.

Meanwhile, wholesale rice traders, who saw good profits last year as they sold the Zilakara Masuri at Rs 48 per kg, Nellore Zilakara at Rs 38 per kg, may have to taste a bitter experience this year as they may have to face huge losses in the business with the prices of those varieties drastically coming down to Rs 38 and Rs 25 per kg due to high yield.

‘’If the situation continued this rabi it is better to wind up the business as it is highly impossible to survive in the rice trade as there is abnormal production in the district. The traders who expected good profits in the rice business stored lakh of tones in godowns and they may secure heavy losses this year,” Menta Hari Venkatesh, a wholesale rice trader  said.

Meanwhile, farmers can be assured of some good price to their produce with the administration ready to purchase 3.5 lakh tones of paddy during rabi for public distribution system under ‘Mana Biyyam Scheme’ in the district.

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Farmers Want Govt to Procure Paddy

Farmers were the worst sufferers due to a series of cyclones that caused severe crop damage in north Coastal Andhra in the last few months. But now, it is the turn of everyone in the state to bear the brunt as the prices of rice are expected to go up by at least 10-20 per cent in the next a few months. Chances of any bumper crop for rabi also appear to be bleak causing a statewide concern over availability of rice in the coming days and possible skyrocketing of their prices.

Due to incessant rainfall caused by a series of cyclones, paddy production in the region has been severely affected. As against the normal area of over six lakh hectare for paddy production in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts, about five lakh hectares was brought under cultivation  during kharif season this year. But the paddy crop was damaged by over 50 per cent in Srikakulam district and another 40 per cent in Visakhapatnam district due to heavy rains. However, the loss is relatively negligible in Vizianagaram district.

According to an estimation by agriculture department, about 12.5 lakh tonne of paddy is produced in the north Coastal Andhra districts including over 5.2 lakh tonne paddy in Srikakulam district during kharif every year. An additional 3-4 lakh tonne paddy is produced during the rabi season. While fine rice varieties like Swarna, Sona and Samba Masoori are popular during the kharif season in north Coastal Andhra region, the 1001 variety rice which is distributed through fair price shops in the state, is widely cultivated during rabi.

“But with the recent rainfall, the production is likely to decrease by at least 50 per cent in Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam districts. The only hope is that farmers have a bumber crop during rabi which could stablise the price hike which is already increasing in the market now,” said M Venkataramana, a rice merchant from Visakhapatnam who is in the rice business for the last 15 years. At present, the fine quality rice is being sold at Rs 42-Rs 55 per kg.

While the merchants and farmers predict a hike in rice prices, the agriculture department officials feel otherwise. Vizianagaram assistant director of agriculture Trinadha Swamy said that the rice price is likely to remain stable till completion of rabi season as paddy production is likely to increase in the region during the season.

While the entire paddy production of 3.24 lakh tonne in Vizianagaram is decreased by only 3,000 tonne, the remaining paddy production of about 9.26 lakh tonne fell by 50 per cent in Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam district due to rains.

“Though 68 per cent rice can be produced from a tonne paddy, it is possible to produce only 50-60 per cent rice from the existing damaged paddy. Hence, about 3.8 lakh tonne rice can be produced from this paddy,” explained G Rambabu, a farmer from Srikakulam district. He said that incessant rains have severely damaged and discoloured the paddy crop which would result in lesser market price for them. Adding to this, farmers hardly cultivate paddy during rabi season in this region and only about 50,000 tonne rice is likely to supplied during rabi.

However, rice syndicates rule the roost in north Coastal Andhra region and when a crisis like heavy rains causes severe losses resulting in low production, they do not shy away from making some quick bucks. Farmers fear that rice millers will procure all paddy from farmers and create a shortage by preserving rice stocks to hike the price. They feel that the government should directly purchase paddy which would not only help farmers to get a remunerative price but also ensure price control in the market.

Vizianagaram district Rice Millers Association president Shiva admitted that some hoarders and black marketers are practicing illegal ways to earn huge profits. He said that restarting of rabi cultivations will help for stabilising rice price in the open market. He assured that the millers would cooperate with the officials in curbing illegal hoarding and blackmarketing of rice.

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Restarting Rabi Crop will Help Stabilise Price

The series of rains as a result of cyclones have affected paddy production in  Krishna district.

Farmers of the district are the worst sufferers of natural calamities and further the absence of  irrigation water as the state government did not release irrigation water for rabi crops in the past two years. This has barred farmers from taking up cultivation and severely affected paddy production.

Krishna district is regarded as the rice bowl of Andhra Pradesh. According to agriculture department, paddy is cultivated in 6.50 lakh acres in Krishna district in the kharif season, 5.24 lakh farmers are engaged in cultivation and 6.73 people are dependent on cultivation earning their livelihood as agriculture coolies. The absence of irrigation water for rabi season has resulted in decreased paddy production to 13.90 lakh metric tonnes for the past two years and the recent rains had further diminished the projected yield to 10.50 lakh metric tonnes.

Joint director of agriculture (Incharge), Krishna district, NC Balu Naik said that farmers of the district cultivates BPT and MTU 1051 rice variety. He said that 4.50 lakh tonnes rice would be produced from 10.50 lakh metric tonnes of paddy in kharif season. He further said that as the government will release water for rabi season, nearly 4 lakh tonnes of rice can be produced from projected 9.50 lakh metric tonnes. Naik opined that the rice price will be stable till next season as paddy production is going to increase in the district due to restarting of rabi cultivation.

A farmer from Gudivada, P Venkateswarlu said that torrential rains had discoloured and damaged paddy. He said that untimely rain will affect paddy in the yield stage which further decreases the prices due to bad quality. Another paddy farmer, D Mallaiah of Avanigadda alleged that rice millers will procure paddy from farmers and will create artificial shortage by preserving stocks to jack up prices. He opined that the government should directly purchase paddy and control the price in the open market. Mallaiah lamented that the paddy procurement centres have become useless as these centers were rejecting damaged and discoloured paddy.

There are nearly 280 rice mills in Krishna district. A market expert, P Govinda Rao who has been in the rice business for the past 20 years, said that there is no use with the government’s rice scheme as hoarders will purchase this subsidy rice and will sell to rice mills which further recycles subsidy rice to thin or super fine variety and will sell in the open market for higher prices. He opined that conversion of paddy into rice should be carried by the government after procurement from farmers to control the spiraling prices of rice. Govinda Rao said that as the people are preferring thin variety rice, the government should encourage farmers to cultivate the same which would stabilize rice prices in the open market.

Krishna District Rice Millers Association leader, P Veeraiah said that some hoarders and black marketers are resorting to illegal ways to earn huge profits.

Senior rice merchant, Varada Prasad said that restarting rabi cultivation will help stabilize  the price in the open market due to availability. He felt that super fine variety is available from Rs 45 to Rs 56 per kg in the open market and there are chances of only a slight increase in these prices.

AP Rytu Sangham Krishna district president, Y Kesava Rao alleged that the government had failed to restrain hoarders and further to control the rice price. He lamented that farmers are incurring losses due to paddy cultivation but rice millers and traders are earning huge profits

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