Farmer Dinesh Makwana was all smiles as his produce of jeera (cumin seeds) was sold at Rs 30,150 per quintal at the mandi of Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC), Unjha in Gujarat’s Mehsana district.
In 2020-21, Makwana harvested 40 quintals from 3.24 hectare (ha) and sold at Rs 15,000 per quintal. This year, he expects to harvest 52 quintals from 3.60 ha and had brought his first lot of eight quintals harvested from half hectare. “The time I had sown my jeera turned out to be the ideal this season,” adds the farmer who has studied till Class 11.
Viram Bavaliya, a farmer from Bala village in Surendranagar district’s Wadhwan taluka got Rs 30,500 for five quintals of jeera harvested from 1.44 ha. “My yield is drastically low as my crop was damaged due to a fungal disease. But the price I got today is way higher than Rs 12 500 I got last year,” says Bavaliya.
On Monday, arrival of around 21,000 bags (each containing 55 kilograms or 0.55 quintal) or 11,550 quintals of jeera were recorded in Unjha, commission agents of the APMC said, with the modal price per quintal hovering around Rs 30,500.
Jeera is sown in October-November and harvested in February-March. March to May is the peak jeera marketing season. Last year, the average price of jeera was around Rs 18,000. But amid apprehensions of lower sowing areas and lower yields due to heat in November, the prices shot up to Rs 25,000 on December 2 last year. It went up to Rs 30,000 on December 23 before soaring to Rs 35,500 on January 3 this year.
“Prices are holding firm as there is no carry forward stock of the previous year and total jeera production in the country is expected to remain stable at around 50 lakh to 55 lakh bags this year,” explained Dinesh Patel, chairman, Unjha APMC.
As per industry sources, India exports around two lakh tonnes (10 quintals make one tonne) of jeera every year. China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt and Turkey are the major destinations of Indian shipments.
The domestic and overseas demand is buoyant, according to a leading jeera exporter who said, “Last year, we were exporting jeera at USD 2,800 per tonne. This year, we are quoting USD 3,800 and we have many orders.” India accounts for around 80 per cent of global jeera production with the balance coming from countries like Turkey, Syria and Iran. In India, Rajasthan is the largest producer.
Prices of fennel (variali) are also higher this season by an average Rs 1,500 per quintal at around Rs 20,000. However, treading with caution, Ramesh Ganchi, a farmer from Bharja village in Sirohi district of Rajasthan shared: “There were hailstorms in December-January and now there is a sudden spike in temperature in February. Therefore, the yield doesn’t look all that good.” His first harvest of 1.5 quintal of fennel fetched Rs 21,900.
Coriander and mustard growers aren’t happy lot as prices range around Rs 6,500 for coriander seeds and Rs 5,000 for mustard seeds, lower by around Rs 500. “My crop was first attacked by aphids and then the temperatures dipped. Therefore, the yield is half than average and now the prices have slid. I shall barely be able to cover the production cost this year,” voiced Shailesh Prajapati, a mustard farmer from Dabhi-Surajnagar village in Unjha taluka.