Registration of Basmati growers for quality traceability in full swing : Kahan Singh Pannu
Aiming to boost Basmati Exports by incorporating quality traceability feature in production and supply of basmati rice, Punjab government has launched an ambitious project of registration of all Basmati growers in the State. The process is being carried out in collaboration with Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), informed KS Pannu, Secretary Agriculture adding that the registration of Basmati growers on the GoI portal basmati.net is on full swing.Giving details, he informed that field staff of the department is facilitating the uploading of relevant information pertaining the names and mobile numbers of basmati rice growers as well as the longitudinal/latitudinal details of their farms on the portal. Coupled to this, details of the quantity and quality of fertilizers and pesticides used by the farmers on the crop are also being recorded.So far about 70,000 Basmati farmers have been registered and the tagging of details of over 25000 farms spanning to 137864 hectares, has also been realised. This tag will help to preserve the unique identity of their rice in the national and international market, said he. After the completion of registration process the farmers are being issued a unique ID and the registration certificates, said Pannu, adding that 15,000 certificates have been distributed till date.This is a win-win situation for the farmers as well as the department because farmers will get good price of their produce as the buyers would be able to contact them and get the samples of Basmati directly from them. Besides, the department will be able to identify the farmers who are using the fertilizers over and above the recommended quantity and also those who are using prohibited pesticides. Subsequently, the department can monitor and motivate the non-adherents towards using optimum quantity and quality of fertilizers/pesticides. This mammoth exercise will be a giant step towards making Basmati crop "pesticide free", said Pannu adding that the gradual elimination of these poisons will result in Punjab's Basmati passing all the international import parameters.It is pertinent to mention that use of 9 pesticides including Acephate, Triazophos, Thiamethoxam, Cerbendazim, Buprofezin, Arbofuron, Propiconazole and Thiophanate Methyl has been banned since they lead to rejection of Basmati export orders to the European Union and other Western countries. But, some farmers in a bid to get better yield, continue to use thrice the recommended urea and a bag of Dai Ammonium Phosphate (DAP) which are not recommended.Considering the fact that Basmati is a flagship crop on Punjab's diversification front as it consumes less water than paddy, all efforts towards encouraging better remuneration for the crop will significantly check the depleting groundwater levels in the state, opined Secretary Agriculture.