Bleak export view, lower prices worry jeera growers

Sowing delayed by a month; prices down 10% from last year

Poor export prospects and lower prices, coupled with delayed sowing, are hurting jeera growers this rabi season.

As on December 2, 2019, rabi sowing for jeera was undertaken on 1,31,561 hectares in Gujarat, nearly 70,000 hectares down from

1,99,455 hectares reported around the same time last year. The three-year average jeera acreage in the State is 3.36 lakh hectares. Gujarat is the largest producer of cumin seed in the country.

The unseasonal rains after Diwali and moist weather has delayed sowing by about a month. Farmers said prices have also gone down by about 10 per cent or about 20-25 a kg from 185-190 a kg seen last year at the same time.

“Jeera market prices are quoting around 165 a kg in the spot market. The sowing is expected to be same as last year. But, with the current lower prices, we believe jeera will not fetch the desired returns for farmers,” said a grower from Surendranagar district.

No export incentives

Farmers have less enthusiasm for jeera sowing not just due to lower prices, but also because of uncertain export prospects. The government has not renewed the export incentive scheme, which ended in July this year. Ashwin Nayak, Chairman, Federation of Indian Spice Stakeholders, said the government was repeatedly being

requested for extension of the export incentive scheme for agriculture produce, to no avail.

Last month, exporters had raised the issue of Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) applications being blocked since August 1 and requested the government to immediately accept the due MIES applications.

“Traders have stopped offering fresh quotes to buyers. As a result, prices have dropped around 10-25 per cent, indirectly hurting farmers. In recent months, which are considered the good season for exports, export

registrations have almost stopped as exporters are not taking orders due to the uncertainty on MEIS. This has led to increased supplies in the domestic markets leading to further pressure on local prices,” Nayak said.

Export outlook poor

Export volume for the current year is expected to be nearly half of what it was at the same time last year at over 1.6 lakh tonnes. Currently, global prices as quoted from Syria and Turkey for cumin seed hovers around $3,500 per tonne. Indian jeera is offered in the range of $2,300-2,400 per tonne.

On the MCX commodity exchange, Jeera futures for the near-month December contract quoted at 15,887 per quintal as against the spot prices of 16,237. This indicates a further downside in jeera prices, leaving farmers edgy with lesser returns from their crop.