Tuesday, October 23, 2007

As you sow, so shall you weep? – Pusa 1121 Hybrid Rice

Navdeep Asija

This modified phrase holds valid for the farmers of Malwa region Punjab, especially Fazilka belt who brought their area under the cultivation of Pusa-1121 hybrid variety of Rice. People are bound to modify this phrase due to changed policy and last minute notification by centre government for the rating Pusa-1121 as non-basmati rice. Punjab State government also seems, not very serious about farmer’s this problem.

Pusa-1121 is an evolved (hybrid) variety of rice developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI). Pusa-1121 has similarities with an earlier IARI hybrid, Pusa Basmati-1 (PB-1), which was approved for commercial cultivation in 1989. Their grains of Pusa-1121 also display the traits associated with basmati: Distinct aroma, non-stickiness and elongation upon cooking

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on October 9, 2007 imposed the ban on non-basmati rice. This happened after Pusa-1121 was sown by the farmers keeping in mind that it belonged to the Basmati category.

The distinct advantage of this crop from conventional Paddy (Parmal) is it’s sowing in monsoon season which is June-July. This directly or indirectly results, saving in ground water, power consumption and minimal use of pesticides. Due to its distinct advantages last year, Malwa region farmer, the most advanced region of farming in the state adopted this change from conventional paddy (Parmal) crop cultivation to Pusa-1121. Last year, an estimated area of about 10000 acres was brought under Pusa-1121 cultivation mainly in Fazilka, Jalalabad (W), Mukatsar, Ferozepur, Guruharsahai, Faridkot, Kotkapura and Gidderbaha of malwa belt. Pusa-1121 was also promoted by Markfed, Pepsi and other agro based agencies.

The irony though is that 1121 is notified as non- basmati on the contrary, the government has included Shabnam as basmati variety this year. The reason: The official definition of `basmati' requires at least one of the two parents to be a traditional basmati land race. In this case, only the grandparents happen to be `pure' basmati lines. "We need to adopt a trait-cum-geographical indication based definition instead of a narrow parentage-based definition. “As long as a particular variety exhibits all basmati traits and is grown within the region, does it matter whether these are inherited through parents or grand-parents," said Vikram Ahuja, a progressive farmer and founder of Zamindara Farmsolutions.

Last week when these farmers brought their crop to the Fazilka Mandi, the price was rupees 2050 /- per quintal. But the prevailing price what farmers are getting in the order of rupees 1450/- per quintal. If they take it back the crop back to the village, this will add additional loss of rupees 100/- per quintal in terms of cost of loading, unloading and transportation. The estimated loss against the earlier price would be rupees 15,000/- per acre. According to Mr Ravi Doda and executive member of Aartia Association Fazilka, Fazilka mandi alone is expecting arrival of 150 thousand quintal of Pusa-1121 crop in this season and if government does not respond timely on this matter and will continue his delay further on this. This will result huge financial and economic loss to the poor farmers of the region and farmers will left with no choice but to go back to the normal Paddy (Parmal).

1 comment:

Unknown said...

very funny keeep it upnavdeep dear