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Punjab basmati rice exporters, farmers want level playing field

Chandigarh, Sept 13:

Rice exporters and farmers in Punjab have asked the state government to reverse its decision of giving market fee exemption on basmati paddy to state rice millers or processors, saying that it would lead to exploitation of state based basmati growers.

Exporters further pointed out that those exporters or traders availing exemption in the state would resort to giving lower prices to growers in the absence of any level playing field.

Punjab government in its latest notification has exempted 2 per cent market fee on basmati paddy if purchased by state based millers, exporters said.

“The new notification issued by the Punjab government will lead to cartelisation by few rice millers or traders in Punjab as they will give lower prices to basmati growers because no rice miller or exporter who is based out of Punjab will buy basmati paddy from the state…

“…as it will not be viable for him because of exemption available only to state rice millers,” Former President of All India Rice Exporters Association, Vijay Setia told PTI today.

“Basmati growers in this case will be exploited as this move is only meant to favour select rice traders or millers in Punjab,” he alleged.

Exporters further said if farmers get lower prices for basmati produce then it would also adversely hit Punjab government’s ambitious crop diversification programme.

“There should be a level playing field for all rice millers irrespective of their location,” he demanded. Sizeable chunk of basmati paddy procured from Punjab is processed by millers in Haryana.

Expressing concern over fetching lower price for their produce, Punjab based farmers have also urged the state government to reverse its decision of exempting market fee on basmati paddy.

“Our growers will be at disadvantage because miller or trader from outside Punjab will not come and buy basmati paddy from here,” said Punjab Young Farmers’ Association Secretary General Bhagwan Dass.

Punjab government has been pushing hard to reduce area under paddy crop by promoting basmati and other alternative crops. It has even announced to fix MSP for basmati rice crop, though farmers are still awaiting the announcement of state assured price.

Punjab is a major grower of basmati crop especially PUSA 1121 and area under basmati in the state is pegged at 6-7 lakh hectares out of total area of 28 lakh hectares.

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