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Cumin seed exports may cross 25,000 t

G.K. Nair

Crop failure, short supply in other nations drive the trend

Kochi , Dec. 24

Export of cumin seeds from the country have set a record high volume of 20,250 tonnes for the first time and crossed the set target involume and value as on November 30.

If the current trend were any indication, shipments of (Jeera) cumin seeds are likely to cross 25,000 tonnes this fiscal, Spices Board sources told Business Line.

As on November 30, the shipments stood at 20,250 tonnes tonne worth Rs 151.5 crore against the set target for 2006-07 of 20,000 tonnes worth Rs 130 crore, while exports in the same period last fiscal were at 6,026 tonnes worth Rs 46.69 crore. In terms of value, it has crossed the target of Rs 130 crore by Rs 21.50 crore.

The highest-ever exports in the past were 18,891 tonnes worth Rs 178.35 crore in 2000-01. Shipments of cumin, which began in 1960-61 with 1,201 tonnes worth Rs 20.1 lakh, crossed the 10,000-tonne mark only in eight financial years during the past 46 years.

Crop failure in other producing countries and the consequent short supply in the world market had contributed to the substantial increase in Indian cumin exports, official sources told Business Line. "Given the current trend the shipments, this fiscal would close the target and achieve a historical high," they said.

In India, cumin grows abundantly in the mild, equable climate of Gujarat and Rajasthan where rich well-drained, sandy, loamy soil and the sunny, conducive environment is available.They contribute almost 90 per cent of total cumin production in the country. Rajasthan is the largest producer of cumin seeds contributing about 50-55 per cent of the total production.India is the biggest consumer of cumin seeds and as a result, the domestic market absorbs almost 90 per cent of the production. The annual domestic demand is about 20 lakh bags i.e. about 1.1 lakh tonnes.

The total production dwindles between 1.5 and 2 lakh tonnes. The highest-ever production was in 2001-02 when it touched 2.06 tonnes from a total area of 5.26 lakh hectares, market sources said.

Other producing countries include those in North Africa, Iran, Indonesia, China, Turkey and Syria.

According to international market sources, the carryover stock this year seems to be very little and, hence, prices are likely to hover around $1,700 a tonne.

Indian cumin is exported in its natural and powdered forms, besides as essential oil. The world demand for cumin is said to be in the range of 12,000-15,000 tonnes.

The US, European Union, West Asia, and South East Asia are the major export markets for Indian cumin seed.

In the international market, Sri Lanka is the major importer preferring cumin seed of 95-96 per cent purity; whereas the European market has a strong preference for 100 per cent purity for machine clean stocks. The main competitors of India in the international market are Syria, China, Turkey and Iran offering at cheaper rate.

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