1. Commodity News

Jeera Prices Rise as Growers Shift Some Land to Mustard, Castor

Spices Board officials confirmed that the area under jeera has decreased by about 30% in Rajasthan this year, to 5.39 lakh hectares (lh) from 7.7 lh last year. In Gujarat, the area has decreased to 3.40 lh from 4.70 lh last year.

Shivam Dwivedi
Picture of Jeera (Cumin)
Picture of Jeera (Cumin)

Jeera (cumin) prices have risen as farmers in Rajasthan & Gujarat, the two largest producing states, have shifted some of their lands to oilseed crops such as mustard and castor this rabi season.

Spices Board officials confirmed that the area under jeera has decreased by about 30% in Rajasthan this year, to 5.39 lakh hectares (lh) from 7.7 lh last year. In Gujarat, the area has decreased to 3.40 lh from 4.70 lh last year.

Spot prices for jeera at the Unjha market are currently at 18,280 per quintal, up from 13,620 at the end of July, representing a 34% increase over the previous six months. Prices are 42% higher in January 2021 than they were in January 2021. Prices were around $12,960 in January 2021.

Jeera futures are currently trading higher than the spot price. The March 2022 contract is quoted at 19,410 on the NCDEX, while the April series is quoted at 19,550.

A Lot of Speculation

According to trade sources, the price increase is the result of speculation.

"Speculators are driving up prices by claiming that sowing is lower, the weather is bad, and the yield will be lower." Fundamentally, there is no way for prices to rise. The area has dropped by 25-30%, but there is no demand for exports. "Who will buy at this high price?" wondered Spice Exim's Yogesh Mehta.

He estimates that the crop will be around 60-65 lakh bags this year (of 55 kg each). Carry-forward stocks would be approximately 25 lakh bags. Last year's jeera crop was 93 lakh bags, with a carryover stock of 20 lakh bags.

The decline in the jeera area is more pronounced in Rajasthan, where farmers have shifted to mustard because prices for the oilseed crop were favourable during the sowing season. Similarly, castor seed is becoming more popular in Gujarat, according to Spices Board officials.

Though Rajasthan has the most jeera land, Gujarat is the largest producer due to its higher yield. While the yield in Rajasthan is around 400-500 kg per hectare, it is nearly double in Gujarat at 900-1,000 kg/ha. The harvest for the 2022 crop will begin in February-March, and the weather will be critical in the future.

Pest Management

"Over the last two years, smallholder growers have been under subdued market price pressure, barely making ends meet while growing cumin in adverse climatic conditions." "The recent increase in market price is a welcome trend caused by low acreages and potential losses due to untimely precipitation and hailstorms," said Bhagirath Choudhary, Founder Director of South Asia Biotechnology Centre, Jodhpur, which is implementing integrated pest management (IPM) programme in cumin cultivation in Rajasthan.

"In addition, cumin farmers deserve better price realization in the face of changing climate and increasing pest intensity, which results in higher production costs." Cumin farmers are turning to residue-free IPM cumin under the Biotech Kisan hub programme, which is fetching a 15-20% price premium, with a record procurement of 18,000 tonnes from western Rajasthan in 2020-21,” Choudhary said.

Exports of jeera were estimated to be 2.99 lakh tonnes valued at 4,253.10 crore in 2020-21, up from 2.14 lakh tonnes valued at 3,328 crore the previous year.

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