KARACHI - The farmers of the county have demanded that the minimum price of paddy of basmati rice must be set at Rs2000-40kg in the country. They said that keeping in view record high inflation, hike in the cost of inputs and very high price of basmati rice in the country and in the international markets, the government should intervene like wheat to ensure a better return to the rice growers. They also stressed the need that the Minimum Export Price (MEP) on basmati rice should be maintained that would help increasing the international price of basmati rice and ultimately this strategy would lead to more income to the growers and exporters of rice. Hamid Malhi, a representative of Rice Growers Association while talking to The Nation said that the government should set support price of paddy of basmati at Rs2000/40kg for upcoming crop as cost of production of crop has doubled this year. He reminded that in the meeting of Rice Board, the government authorities had agreed to set support price of paddy of basmati at Rs2000/40kg. The meeting was chaired by federal minister of MINFAL and attended by REAP, rice growers and concerned officials of federal government. It may be noted here that last year the paddy price of basmati was around Rs1300/40kg and non-basmati price was Rs700/40kg, but the farmers eying for paddy price of Rs1000/40kg of non-basmati and Rs1500/40kg of basmati of upcoming crop. He pointed out that the paddy price shows a sharp increase as soon as the crop goes from farmers to the middlemen and the mills owners. The unanimous decision to maintain the MEP on basmati for upcoming season was also adopted in the meeting; he said and alleged that some powerful officials of Commerce and Industry Ministry with the manipulation of rice exporters had abolished the MEP on all varieties of rice. "After imposition of Minimum Export Price on basmati, the export of rice had been surged to $1.8 billion dollars from earlier figures of $1.2 billion dollars in last fiscal 2007-08" he said and cautioned that claimed that due to abolition of MEP on basmati, the rice export likely to reverse to $1.5 billion dollars and government would deprive of this huge foreign earnings.   He was of the view that exporters had earned huge profit from the export of rice but they were not ready to pass on minor portion of this to farmers this year. If exporters do not pay judicious justify to farmers, it will impacted on the production of wheat in the country as expenses of fertilizer and other inputs has been sky-rocketing and will be out of reach of growers. He informed that the government had decided that PAASCO will purchase 0.5 million tons of non-basmati and 0.5 million tons of basmati from farmers this year aimed to control the prices of rice in domestic market. Contradicting the estimated production of 7 millions tons production of rice claimed by REAP, he said that total output of rice will not be above 6 million tons this year. Meanwhile, some rice brokers in Karachi have informed that the new production of variety of PK386 which government had declared non-basmati but it known as semi-basmati in market, arrived in market and its price is Rs45/per kg in open market. In last year, the price of above variety was touched to Rs80-per kg, brokers informed, hoping that the price of this variety will go down as new crop is nearly arriving in market.