Punjab to sow new short duration Basmati variety next kharif

Punjab will be the first state to commence cultivation of new the short duration variety of Basmati rice from the next Kharif season.

The new variety is expected to give boost to export potential of aromatic rice from the country.

Developed by scientists of Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), under the ministry of agriculture, the new variety referred as 'Pusa Basmati 1509' takes about 115-120 days to mature against 145-150 days for 'Pusa 1121', which constitute a major chunk of India's aromatic long grain rice exports.

Besides, the new variety does not shatter in case of any delay in harvesting and has a superior grain quality.

An agriculture ministry official said following the meeting of All India Rice Workers Group meeting, which consist of rice breeders and other concerned officials, in April, the ministry will notify the variety '1509' as Basmati.

"Because of lesser duration of crop, the new variety would help farmers in saving atleast 5-6 irrigations and ensure better yield," KV Prabhu, Head, Division of Genetics, IARI told FE. Prabhu said the short duration variety would help Punjab farmers in reducing the ground water usage significantly by using monsoon rains.

In Punjab and Haryana, groundwater has depleted to alarming level because of excessive usage in growing paddy and wheat. This has forced the two states to ban usage of ground water in the summer month of June for rice sowing so that monsoon rains could be used in July.

Exporters said the new variety are definitely going to replace large areas under Pusa 1121, which has more than 70% share in India's Basmati rice exports market.

During the trial phase, yield wise, the '1509' variety has given around 6.5 tonne per hectare against around 4.5 and 2.5 tonne reported for the widely grown 1121 and traditional Basmati varieties respectively.

"Through the field trial we have witnessed that new variety gives better grain quality and yield by using less water which would help the country in increasing exports," Vijay Setia, former president, All-India Rice Exporters Association and leading exporter of Basmati rice said.

India's Basmati rice export is set to cross Rs 16,000 crore mark duing current fiscal. The country shipped aromatic and long grained rice worth Rs 15,450 crore during 2011-12.

Pusa Basmati 1121 also developed by IARI was released for commercial cultivation in 2003. This variety presently occupies more than 1.5 million hectare of Basmati rice grown area estimated at around 2.6 mh.

An official with Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) said India's Basmati rice exports rose sharply following the introduction of Pusa 1121 variety in the global markets. Pusa 1121 has a huge demand from mostly middle-east countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Last six years have been watershed years as far as India's basmati rice export goes. From a modest Rs 2792 crore of aromatic rice exports during 2006-7, the exports have increased by many times and are set to cross Rs 16,000 crore mark during the current fiscal.

Basmati rice is mostly grown in Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand. India exports Basmati rice to middle-east countries mostly Iran, Saudi Arabia and UAE, European Union and the US.

Saudi Arabia and Iran account for more than 60% of India's total Basmati rice exports.

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