Excess rain damages sesame, groundnut crops in Gujarat

Last Updated: Wed, Sep 15, 2010 20:00 hrs

A third of sesame seed and 15-20% of groundnut crop damaged.

The extended monsoon has extensively damaged sesame seed and groundnut crops in Gujarat, the country’s largest oilseed producer. Trade sources say the crop has also been damaged in Andhra and Maharashtra.

A formal assessment is yet to be done. However, trade sources said a third of sesame seed and 15-20 per cent of groundnut crops had been damaged until the first week of September.

Hybrid sesame seed, a 60-day kharif crop, is sown in June for harvesting in the first week of September. The crop size is very low, 7,000-8,000 tonnes. It is largely finished, says Sanjiv Sawla, partner of M Lakshamsi & Co, a Mumbai-based oilseed and oil trader. Due to the small small crop size, it does not make much difference to the overall output. But it works on the market sentiment, he says.

Gujarat contributed nearly 90,000 tonnes to India’s total output (275,000 tonnes) of the whitish variety of sesame seed last year. This year, "we would be happy if we get 50,000 tonnes sesame in Gujarat", said a renowned oilseed analyst in Gujarat. Until September 4, Gujarat had recorded over 100 per cent normal monsoon rainfall, with Kutch getting 193.3 per cent of the normal rain, followed by Saurashtra (138.5 per cent) and North Gujarat (101 per cent). South and east-central Gujarat, however, remained rain-deficient by 71.9 per cent and 83.2 per, respectively.

Saurashtra, rich in sesame seed growing areas, was the most affected, said Sanjay Shah, a leading oilseed trader and former chairman of the apex trade body, the Indian Oilseeds and Produce Export Promotion Council. Groundnut farmers have been unable to assess the full damage as the crop is grown underground. Fields are still muddy and need at least five continuous days of bright sunshine. A long period of mud damages the fruit.

Last year, Gujarat produced 1.35 million tonnes groundnut in the kharif season. According to early estimates, this was expected to rise to 1.45 million tonnes due to favourable monsoon. But excessive rain will lower output this season, says B V Mehta, executive director, the Solvent Extractors’ Association.

As a result of the damage, groundnut bold (60/90) prices have risen nearly three per cent to Rs 5,650 a quintal from Rs 5,500 a quintal a month before. Groundnut java (80/90) has risen to Rs 5,950 a quintal from Rs 5,750 a quintal in the last one month. Sesame seed whittish (premium quality) perked marginally to Rs 5,950 a quintal from Rs 5,900 a quintal nearly a month before.

Groundnut acreage in the country was pegged at 4.9 million hectares (ha) as on September 4, as compared to 4.19 million ha on this date last year. The normal kharif acreage is about 5.4 million ha.