As the monsoon nears and farmers prepare to start sowing for the kharif season, there is a choice they must make between cotton, guar seed and castor seed.
Last year, guar seed gave 40 per cent returns, while castor gave 45 per cent. Cotton prices are now Rs 45,000 a candy (356 kg) but had surged to Rs 63,000 per candy on the spot markets in February, a big temptation when deciding what to sow.
In 2010, guar seed was sown on just under three million hectares in Rajasthan and production was 1.546 million tonnes. Guar seed is a seriously considered option in that state (70 per cent of the country’s production comes from here), since it requires low rainfall, unlike cotton.
“Guar seed acreage in Rajasthan may go up by 20 to 25 per cent if rainfall is good, but if it is scarce, then acreage may go up by 50 per cent. Guar gum exports are very high this year and this will cause farmers to increase their acreage under the commodity,” said Brij Mohan, a Jodhupur-based guar seed and guar gum trader.
While guar seed farmers mostly stay with the same crop, farmers in Ganganagar might opt for cotton, traders believe. Guar gum prices are tempting farmers because these have almost doubled in a year. The seed is now traded at Rs 3,221 per 100 kg on the spot markets; it was Rs 2,280 a kg last June.
Yet, says Biren Vakil, director, Paradigm Commodities, “Despite higher exports of guar gum and the price rise in guar seed, acreage under the commodity will fall, as cotton and castor seed have given better returns.”
Castor seed went as high as Rs 6,145 per 100 kg in February on the spot markets but has now moderated to Rs 4,600 per 100 kg.