A year after promoting the cultivation of basmati crop under the crop diversification plan, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has now advised the farmers to restrain from sowing basmati.Officials have stated that sufficient stocks of basmati were available since it was cultivated on 8.62 lakh hectares in 2014-15. Any further cultivation of basmati on 7.60 lakh hectares during 2015-16 coupled with the huge stocks led to a crash in basmati prices in the domestic market.Market experts of the PAU have been predicting that the basmati market may again face this problem in the current season (2016-17). So the varsity authorities are advising the farmers to curtail the area under basmati to less than 5 lakh hectares during the current season so that the accumulated stocks of basmati rice are cleared.Farmers suffered heavy losses due to low prices of basmati in the international as well as domestic market during the previous season. Farmers who cultivated the 1509 variety were major sufferers as the MSP of basmati was low.Dr Baldev Singh Dhillon, PAU vice- chancellor said, “Crop diversification is important for us but survival of the farmer is more important than that. It is expected that the market of basmati would remain low this year so we have advised farmers to restrain from increasing the area under basmati”Transplanting paddy after June 15 results in a good yield, reduces the use of water and lessens the attack of insects-pests. Last year, Punjab produced 180 lakh tonnes of paddy and contributed 93.5 lakh tonnes of rice to the central pool. The government fixed June 15 for transplantation of paddy under Punjab Preservation of Subsoil Water Act, 2009. This Act aims at saving underground water, canal water and power resources.
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