Mumbai: Deficient rainfall in the main Indian turmeric growing states has delayed cultivation and farmers fear that acreage may fall this year if weak monsoon persists, traders and analysts said.
Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka in southern India and Maharashtra in the west are main producers of turmeric where lower rains have delayed sowing by a fortnight, said Naresh Shah, a trader based in Sangli in Maharashtra.
“Everybody is waiting for rains. If they remain weak for the next fortnight, then acreage under turmeric will certainly go down,” he said.
Turmeric cultivation starts in June, when monsoon reaches the southern and western states of India.
Lower rainfall may force farmers to opt for corn and soya bean crops, which require less water than turmeric and are also giving good returns, said Punam Chand Gupta, a large trader and exporter based in Nizamabad, Andhra Pradesh.
Needing care: Turmeric in a Delhi wholesale bazar. Being a delicate crop, it has to be cultivated with care to avoid damaging the rhizome. Photo: Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
“Already we have seen some diversion in Andhra Pradesh,” Gupta said.
The arrival of monsoon three days ahead of schedule in turmeric producing states had led traders to expect higher acreage, helping farmers get higher prices.
The price of turmeric in the Nizamabad spot market was around Rs4,100 per 100kg this year, almost double the Rs2,100 that prevailed in June 2007, according to data compiled by National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX).
Acreage in Tamil Nadu, where rains were higher than other turmeric growing states may rise, but Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are likely to see a decline, said Nandkishore Sarda, a trader based in Sangli.
Between 1 June and 2 July, central parts of Maharashtra, northern Karnataka and coastal Andhra Pradesh received lower rainfall compared with long-term average, while Tamil Nadu rains were higher, India Meteorological Department data showed.
The concerns are also mirrored in the prices of the spice futures on exchanges.
The near-month contract for turmeric rose about 4% on NCDEX in the past nine sessions. At 6.45pm, the August contract on NCDEX was up 0.18% at Rs4,542 per 100kg.
Farmers may also opt for alternatives because of a shortage of skilled labours, said Vibhu Ratandhara, an analyst with Bonanza Commodity Brokers Pvt. Ltd.
Turmeric is a delicate crop and needs to be cultivated and harvested with care to avoid damage to the rhizomes.
After the harvest, these are boiled and dried before reaching the markets, making it labour-intensive.