Current high prices of guarseed could impact its sowing in Rajasthan in the forthcoming kharif season. The State is the main producer accounting for 70 per cent the country's produce.

It has made a pitch to the Centre seeking intervention to make available seeds at an affordable price in the kharif 2012-13 season.

There is an increased demand for seeds as more farmers attracted by high prices want to plant guar crop, Rajasthan Agriculture Department officials said. The potential area under the crop is likely to increase to 40 lakh hectares in the season, up from previous year's 30 lakh hectares, based on the demand for seeds from various districts. Such increased area will require an estimated 4,000 tonnes of seeds.

Fears of shortage

However, the State fears shortage of seeds as farmers have sold stocks to take advantage of high prices, the officials said. The output in 2011-12 was estimated at 12.5 million bags of a quintal each.

Mr P.L. Hissaria, President of Guar Gum Exporters Association, concurs that high prices may create problems for farmers. However, he expects farmers to plant more area under guarseed and expects a much higher crop next year, subject to timely rains.

Prices of guarseed, the key raw material for producing guar gum, have more than quadrupled since November last year on tight supplies and rising demand. The prices, which ruled at around Rs 4,704 a quintal in early November, have now crossed Rs 22,300 in Bikaner spot market.

Prices

Guarseed sown in the kharif season during July-August is harvested from November onwards. On Tuesday, guarseed prices for delivery in March rose by Rs 632 on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange to close at Rs 22,200 a quintal with an open interest of 15,580 lots. For delivery in July, guarseed gained Rs 517 to close at Rs 22,000 with an open interest of 360 lots.

Guar gum is used as a thickening agent and additive in food products like instant soups, ice creams, processed meat products and yoghurt. Besides, it also has industrial applications in paper and textiles, ore flotation, explosives and fracturing of oil and natural gas formations. India accounts for a major chunk of the global supplies and the commodity is mainly exported to the US.

vishwa@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 7, 2012)
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