High-tech survey to assess basmati rice output amid patchy monsoon

By Zia Haq

No surveys were done in the previous two years due to Covid-related disruptions, and this year’s estimation should give a far more accurate picture of the aromatic long-grain crop, as it’s being done using high-tech forecasting tools, such as climate modelling and satellite imaging, an official said.

Basmati rice, grown in seven states with a geographical indication (GI) tag, fetches a premium market abroad. Overseas sales increased 25.54% in the April-June 2022-23 period to stand at $1.15 billion, compared to $922 million worth of basmati shipments in the corresponding months of the previous year, according to official data.

Fields are being scanned by satellites, and ground surveys are being carried out at district levels in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh (30 districts) and three districts of Jammu & Kashmir.

Exports, to a large extent, determine the fortune of growers of the premium rice variety. “Field-based as well as satellite imaging is being carried out based on a representative sample of selected farmers in all seven states. For accuracy, GPS points are recorded, and each farmer gets photographed periodically,” the official said. Climate-modelling tools are also being used.

The survey is being done by the Basmati Export Development Foundation (BEDF), an arm of the commerce ministry-run APEDA or Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority. APDEDA routinely advises farmers on selecting certified seeds and judicious application of pesticides to meet strict export norms, the official said.

The country has exported basmati worth nearly $12 billion in the last three years. Large shipments are bought by countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.

According to the farm ministry’s data, as on August 26, the country’s rice acreage had shrunk nearly 6% over the corresponding period last year as the annual monsoon rains were patchy in paddy-growing states.

This article has been republished from The Hindustan Times.

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