Cumin prices are skyrocketing due to crop shortage

Nayan Dave writes

More than 40% deficit in cumin crop in Rajasthan and Gujarat, combined with an exceptionally high export demand, the price of the product has inflated to Rs 4,500 per 20 kg. Traders and exporters of Unjha, the largest seed spice hub in Asia, said that the price of cumin on Thursday ranged from Rs 3,900 to Rs 4,500 per 20 kg, depending on the quality of the cumin.

Arvind Patel, a cumin trader from Unjhar, said that after cleaning, sorting and packaging, cumin is being sold in the retail market at Rs 275 to Rs 300 per kg (Rs 5,500 to Rs 6,000 per 20 kg).

On the National Commodities and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX), May cumin futures touched a high of Rs 21,765 per quintal on Thursday. The price of spot cumin at Unjha Mandi in NCDEX Jodhpur stood at Rs 21,701.70 per quintal (Rs 4,340 per 20 kg). At Jodhpur Mandi, it was Rs 22,500 per quintal. Patel, who was also vice-chairman of the Unjha Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), said that if the upcoming monsoon season weakens, the price of cumin will go up by another Rs 6,000 in the second half of the current calendar year.

“In the previous season, the price of cumin was between Rs 2,400 and Rs 2,700 per 20 kg. Cumin production in Rajasthan and Gujarat was about 9 million bags (55 kg per bag). This year, we expect the country to produce about 5.5 million bags of cumin, ”said Patel.

Cumin is sown from October to December and harvesting starts from February to the end of April. Jodhpur and Nagaur districts of Rajasthan are the main pockets of cumin cultivation. Cumin is being sown in Gujarat, Banaskantha, Kutch and Saurashtra. Farmers and traders from both the states eventually came to Unjha to sell their produce. About 60% of the total arrival of cumin in Unjha comes from Rajasthan and the remaining 40% comes from different parts of Gujarat.

For the 2021-22 season, cumin sowing in Gujarat was limited to 3 lakh hectares as compared to 4.70 lakh hectares in the previous year. The same is true of neighboring Rajasthan, where the amount of land has been reduced by 20%. As the cumin crop is highly susceptible to weather and disease, farmers in Rajasthan and Gujarat have shifted to other crops on demand, including cotton, mustard, groundnut, soybean and coriander seeds, this season, said Dinesh Patel, chairman of Unjha APMC. He added: “In addition to this, increased rainfall and unseasonal rains in March this year have adversely affected the cumin crop. Also, cumin has played a detrimental role for farmers in the heatwave areas. Fortunately, there is an encouraging demand for exports, which is giving farmers a good rate for their cumin crops. “

Cumin exporter Vanubhai Joshi said there is a huge demand for cumin in the markets of West Asia, Southeast Asia, America and Europe. Spices are exported from Unjha to about 40 countries of the world. The highest exports are to the United States, Europe, China and Latin America, after the Gulf countries. India has more than 75% share of cumin in the international market. Besides India, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey produce and export cumin. However, the quality of Indian cumin is much better than other countries in the world.

Seed spice expert Jayavadan Gandhi says that in recent years, cumin exporters have faced the problem of rejection on the basis of higher pesticide content, especially from Chinese buyers. Even European and US importers are emphasizing on organically grown spices, Gandhi said. Considering the current picture, Unjha traders believe that carry forward stock will remain zero next season.

This year, the market witnessed nearly 1.5 million bags of carry-forward stock last year. About 75% of the crop has already arrived at Unjha Market Yard, Patel said, adding that 25% of the crop is still in warehouses or with farmers. Some farmers expect the price of cumin to rise further and so they are holding on to it now, he added.

The tour was sponsored by NCDEX

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