Groundnut market prices are still ruling below the minimum support price (MSP) despite Nafed procuring more than 1.1 lakh tonne of the nut from farmers, mostly in Gujarat and Rajasthan, under the price support scheme in the last one month.
The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) has asked the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) to increase the volume of groundnut procurement by buying more quantity of the commodity from farmers so that market prices do not decline further.
According to Agmark data, groundnut prices in various markets of Gujarat are presently around R3,200 per quintal while in Rajasthan they are around R3,000 per quintal against the MSP of R4,000 per quintal.
In anticipation of bumper groundnut crop in the key growing state, the market prices have fallen below MSP, forcing the key oilseeds procuring agency, Nafed, to intervene in the market.
“Nafed must widen its base of procurement as prices are still below MSP and the government should liberalise edible oil export norms,” CACP chairman Ashok Gulati told FE. He also requested the commerce ministry to reconsider its decision of allowing groundnut exports only in packs of 5 kg.
A Nafed official said the federation has purchased 67,000 tonne in Gujarat and 40,000 tonne in Rajasthan from farmers at the government approved MSP. The federation has also initiated procurement operations in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.
Nafed, in collaboration with state government-owned marketing agencies, has set up 29 centres in Gujarat and six centres in Rajasthan for purchasing groundnut.
In a bid to boost oilseed production to reduce the country's dependence on imports of edible oil, MSP for groundnut has been hiked from R2,700 per quintal in 2011-12 to R4,000 per quintal in 2013-14.
“We have been providing incentives to farmers to boost oilseed production. The government must provide support in purchasing their produce for boosting production and reducing our dependence on import of edible oil,” Gulati said.
Groundnut contributes to nearly 25% of total oilseed production in the country. Nearly 75% production is during June-September and the rest during November-March, known as kharif and rabi seasons respectively. India is one of the major groundnut exporting countries after China.
The country exported 5.35 lakh tonne of groundnuts worth R4,065 crore during the year 2012-13. The major export destinations were Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.
The groundnut crop in Gujarat this year is estimated at a record high of 25.95 lakh tonnes on higher yields and acreage, according to a recent field survey by the Solvent Extractors Association of India.
Last year, Gujarat produced 6.95 lakh tonnes as drought in Saurashtra impacted the yields.
For the kharif 2013-14 season, Gujarat had reported groundnut acreage of 16.6 lakh hectares, 36 per cent more than last year’s 12.24 lakh ha.
The average yield this year is pegged at 1,560 kg for a hectare more than twice than last year’s 760 kg, the SEA survey said.
Further SEA said the groundnut crop sown in early June has nearly matured and required a dry spell for harvest.
However, if the rain continues, there could be some damage to the standing crop and the crop size could be reduced by 5-7 per cent, it said.
The Agriculture Ministry in its first advanced estimates has pegged the country’s groundnut crop at 55.69 lakh tonnes against 31 lakh tonnes produced last year.
The timely arrival and six per cent excess monsoon rains across the country have boosted the prospects of a record foodgrain harvest this year.
Meanwhile, soyameal exports grew 36 per cent in rupee value terms for the oil-year ended September 2013, but saw a four per cent decline for the period over corresponding last year. According to Soyabean Processors Association (SOPA), the value of soyabean exports for 2012-13 were estimated at over Rs 10,558 crore against previous year’s Rs 7,745 crore.
In quantity, the soyameal shipments declined by four per cent to 34.73 lakh tonnes during the oil year 2012-13 October-September on lower availability of the oilseeds for crushing.
Shipment during 2011-12 stood at 36.23 lakh tonnes, SOPA said in a statement.
Iran, Japan, France, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Korea were the major destinations for Indian soyameal exports in 2012-13.
The shipments of soyameal, which is used as animal feed has increased sharply during September this year to 1.73 lakh tonnes from 2,864 tonnes in the same month last year.
The export during April to September in the current fiscal increased by 4.68 per cent to 8.76 lakh tonnes compared to 8.37 lakh tonnes in the same period last year.
Oilseeds production is set to rebound this kharif season but the jury is still out if it can scale higher than the record 219.22 lakh tonnes (lt) achieved during 2010-11.
“Soyabean and groundnut production will be higher this year. But we are not sure if it can touch the high that we saw three years ago,” said Govindlal G. Patel, managing partner of G.G. Patel & Nikhil Research Co. Patel is a renowned crop statistician.
“Going by the acreage, it is clear that we will have a higher crop this kharif,” said B.V. Mehta, Executive Director of the Solvent Extractors Association of India.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, till September 6, oilseeds have been planted on 191.6 lakh hectares (lh) against 117.6 lh during the same period a year ago.
But as in the caseof other kharif crops, excess rain could affect the final output since damage to crops has been reported from some areas of the country.
“The soyabean crop has been damaged in some parts of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra due to excess rainfall. The area under soyabean this year is 122 lh against 107 lh last year,” said Patel.
Soyabean production could be between 115 lakh tonnes (lt) and 120 lt against 107 lt, he said.
“Even if we get one tonne from a hectare, soyabean production should go up by 15 lt. However, if we are to account for the damage, then maybe, we could get an additional 10 lt over last year,” said Mehta.
Though continuous rain from June to August-end had threatened the soyabean crop, sunshine during the last two weeks has raised hopes of a better crop.
Soyabean is the main kharif oilseeds crop accounting for over half the total production with groundnut, sesamum, nigerseed and sunflower making up the rest.
“Groundnut is making a comeback this year after the crop faced problems in the last two years,” said Mehta.
According to Patel, the groundnut crop in Gujarat could be 42 lt this year, though the crop requires another spell of rainfall.
“Prospects for another spell of rainfall are bleak going by forecasts. Those who have irrigation facilities are better off, while others may not be able to take advantage of excellent weather earlier this season,” said Patel.
“The higher area under kharif oilseeds could get translated into 15 lt-20 lt of additional oilseeds,” said Mehta.
The higher production could keep oilseed prices either at current levels or a little lower.
“Over 60 per cent of our vegetable oils need is met through imports. So, prices will tend to tow the global trend,” Patel said, adding that prices could rule around last year’s average.
“Prices could come under pressure because this is also the peak palm oil production period,” said Mehta.
However, with demand for edible oils rising by seven per cent every year, the additional production would go only toward meeting it. “This will keep prices steady,” said Patel.
Imports are expected to be around this season’s level of 105 lt-110 lt. From November to August of the current oil season, about 80 lt of vegetable oils have been imported. “Another 26-30 tonnes could arrive by October, taking the total imports to nearly 100 lt,” said Mehta.
“The new crop will start arriving in November and we could see the arrivals checking imports,” he said.
“Imports will also depend on the rupee exchange rate. Any fall in the rupee will make imports costlier and hence, it will affect shipments,” said Patel.
Gujarat is set to witness high groundnut acreage this kharif season. With the state receiving a good spell of rains, especially in the Saurashtra region, the farmers are a happy lot.
The groundnut acreage has already touched 15 lakh hectares in the state as compared to 2.2 lakh hectares same time last year. Usually groundnut is sown in an area of 14.43 lakh hectares in Gujarat.
Agriculture department officials said 100% groundnut acreage has been achieved after a gap of two years. The sowing is expected to increase with the strengthening of the monsoon in Gujarat.
In the year 1961, when Gujarat became a separate state, the groundnut was being sown over 22.68 lakh hectares. A downward trend started in 2007.
What's more, agriculture officials said that while the sowing area has registered a fall, even the production has taken a beating. In the year 2003-04, groundnut production crossed 45 lakh metric tonnes (mt) mark. The total production has been going down ever since as farmers took to cotton.
Cotton growing gathered momentum in 2004-05 and more and more farmers have been switching from groundnut. Fall in production due to less yield per hectare was the major reason for the switch to cotton.
Of the total production, the snacks consumption was 10%. The number used to be only 3% till couple of years back. Also the raw consumption, which was 30%, has gone up to around 50%. In the year 2009-10, it was only 16 lakh mt, but following good rains it increased to 31 lakh mt in 2010-11. But the groundnut farming area came down from 17.5 lakh hectares to 16.9 lakh hectares.
In state, average groundnut yield per hectare has declined over last five years. In 2007, the yield was around 1,700 kg per hectare, which has gone down to 1,300 kg per hectare in recent times. Land under groundnut cultivation has also reduced.
Experts feel that the fertility of land under groundnut cultivation is declining while erratic rains in the state have also hampered the production. The quality of groundnut seed being used is also under question by agriculture experts. "The groundnuts are smaller in size and some of them turn out to be empty. Over the years, fertility of the land has decreased resulting in bad and low yield," an official said.
Maharashtra and Rajasthan saved Gujarat oil millers
President of Saurashtra Oil Millers Association Samir Shah said that groundnut production was only 5 lakh metric tones last year. "Had we not procured groundnut from Rajasthan and Maharastra, we would have failed to control the increasing price of oil. The governments of these two states have been promoting groundnut farming. On the other hand, in Gujarat there is no incentive from the government which is resulting in the falling in groundnut acreage," said Shah.
In the wake of the early onset of the monsoon, groundnut acreage in the state has already touched 1.41 million hectares as on July 1. This assumes importance as the average groundnut sowing (for the last three years) is estimated at around 1.44 million hectares in Gujarat.
Sowing of groundnut has been done in 1.41 million hectares till July 1 against 0.22 million hectares in the corresponding period last year, according to the data released by the state agriculture department. This accounts for 97.6 per cent of the average sowing area for groundnut in the state. The sowing is expected to increase with the strengthening of the monsoon in the state.
However, groundnut prices have declined 25 per cent in June this year, on lower export demand and higher availability. According to traders, the prices have also gone down because groundnut from Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have arrived in the Gujarat market for sale.
Normally, the summer groundnut crop is used for export. But, following new regulations, exports have dipped after February. Traders said while Saurashtra's summer groundnut production has declined, the overall crop was normal across the country.
The price of groundnut during June had declined by Rs 275 to Rs 700- Rs 840 per 20 kg from Rs 1,090- Rs 1,100 per 20 kg.
Around 45,000-50,000 bags are arriving in the state every day. Out of these, around 60 percent is coming from other states like Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
A Rajkot-based groundnut trader, on condition of anonymity, said: "Saurashtra's summer groundnut production was nominal due to water shortage in this area but other parts of Gujarat like Bardoli, Panchmahal, Banaskantha and Sabarkantha have had good production this year."
"On the other hand, demand for groundnut export has decreased, which has pulled down the price," the trader said.
He further said this year, summer groundnut production in Gujarat was about 100,000 tonnes while in India, it is expected to be around 500,000 tonnes.
"Summer groundnut cannot be used for crushing as the oil content is lower. A majority of the produce is exported. But this year, export has declined due to new rules for groundnut export. Shelling units also sold their stock in the open market this time", said Mukund Shah, president of Gujarat Oilseeds Processors Association.
Throughout the country Area coverage during Kharif 2013 is higher by 16.75 lakh ha compared to corresponding period of Kharif 2012, result of higher area coverage in the state Gujarat due to good rainfall. Normal area under groundnut in the country is 4.9 million hectares.