IARI-developed Basmati rice varieties help boost exports, farmers’ income

Two varieties of Basmati rice — PB 1121 and PB 1509 — developed by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Pusa, Delhi, are set to provide high returns to the farmers. The benefits are expected to range between Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per acre, after taking into account cost of cultivation as well as lease rental for the land.

Yield of traditional varieties of basmati rice used to be in the range of 12 –13 quintal per acre, while the PB1121 and PB1509 varieties have an average yield of 24 quintal and 26 quintal per acre, respectively.

While the high-yielding and larger-grained PB1121 variety was certified as Basmati rice in 2008, the PB1509, which takes fewer weeks for maturity, was released in 2013. These two Basmati rice varieties have contributed 70% of the total value of cumulative exports of long-grain aromatic rice from India worth Rs 2.38 lakh crore between 2010 and 2019. India exported on an average 3.74 million tonnes (mt) of Basmati rice annually during the period. 

According to an analysis by IARI of the economic value accrued because of Basmati rice, Rs 1.66 lakh crore worth of export earnings between 2010 and 2019 was from the shipment of PB1121 and PB1509 rice varieties, while domestic sales were to the tune of Rs 51,501 crore in the same period.

During 2010-2019, annually, Basmati rice was grown in 18.34 lakh hectares on an average, out of which PB11121 and PB1509 was grown in 67% and 10% of the area, respectively. The rest of the varieties grown by farmers include PB1, PB6 and PB1718, which are also developed by IARI.

Major export destinations of India’s Basmati rice include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and the UAE, besides some European countries. India exported Basmati rice worth Rs 29,849 crore ($4018 million) in 2020-21. Recently, IARI has released improved varieties PB1847, PB1885 and PB1886; these are improved varieties with inbuilt resistance to bacterial blight and blast diseases. These varieties are expected to reduce the use of pesticides significantly in basmati cultivation. 

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