August 2023 has been a month of extreme weather conditions for Gujarat. The state’s weather department reported a shocking 21% rainfall deficit. While the region usually experiences monsoon rains during this period, 2023 witnessed an unprecedented dry spell. Let’s delve into the impacts of this historical weather phenomenon on Cumin Seed farming, which is an essential crop for the region.
Despite being a dry season for crops, there’s an unexpected surge in Cumin Seeds arrival, a vital cash crop for Gujarat. This surge had an unexpected consequence- a demand slump. Cumin seed prices skyrocketed to Rs. 11,750-12,200 per 20 kg, a drastic increase from the previous range of Rs. 800-1000.
In local wholesale markets, Cumin Seed prices have also shot up to Rs. 63/64 thousand per quintal. These price hikes have left farmers in a conundrum, causing them to hold back their Cumin Seed sales as they grapple with fluctuating income.
1. Production: India primarily competes with countries like Turkey and Syria in the global Cumin market, where they produce around 35,000 tons of Cumin collectively, with Indian Cumin highly regarded for its quality.
2. India’s Export Data: In the first two months of the current financial year 2023-24, Cumin exports reached 42,988.50 tons with a growth volume of 68% in quantity and a revenue of Rs. 1502.27 crores, marking an increase in revenue compared to the previous year’s corresponding period when 25,603 tons of Cumin were exported worth Rs. 492.11 crores.
3. Export Shortage: Cumin prices set records earlier due to concerns about a 75% production decrease during the previous season. Another concern is the rising sea freight rates, which have increased nearly threefold recently. This has created a Cumin export shortage along with other major spices.
While multiple factors have contributed to this wild ride in Cumin prices, let’s have a look at major two factors:
1. Damage: One significant reason is the crop damage in Rajasthan caused by heavy rainfall in March 2023.
2. Imports: Active imports from countries like Bangladesh initially disrupted the market, but these imports are now seeing reduced demand due to the higher prices.
In the coming days, Cumin prices are expected to remain stable within a limited range. With the Dussehra festival on the horizon, farmers are gearing up for the crucial sowing season. However, the prevailing drought situation has cast a shadow of uncertainty over the new crop sowing, leaving farmers understandably cautious. Despite recent fluctuations in Cumin prices, farmers have been cautious about selling their produce.
The combination of monsoon deficiency, volatility in Cumin prices, increased imports, and rising sea freight rates has created a challenging environment for Cumin farmers in Gujarat. The situation highlights the need for timely interventions and support mechanisms to safeguard the livelihoods of these farmers.
Until favourable conditions return, both the farmers and the Cumin market in Gujarat will continue to grapple with uncertainty.