Planting of guar has picked up in the key State of Rajasthan, with the growing areas receiving good showers in recent weeks.

Trade sources expect the guar acreage to be higher than last year’s 3 million hectares as farmers, lured by high returns, are expected to plant more.

“The acreage till date in Rajasthan is about 1.5 times more than last year and will touch 4.5 million hectares,” said B.D. Agarwal, Chairman and Managing Director of Vikas WSP Ltd, an exporter in Sri Ganganagar.

Planting is still going on and will continue at least till August 20, he said.

“Despite delayed monsoon, the situation is quite comfortable and we expect a good harvest,” Agarwal said.

The shares of Vikas WSP were trading closer to the yearly-high level at around Rs 73.15 on the BSE on Thursday.

The pick-up in rain has reduced the country’s overall deficit to around 15 per cent till date.

Rain shortfall in east Rajasthan stood at 7 per cent, while in west Rajasthan, it was 30 per cent.

Guar acreage

Last year, 1.3 million tonnes of guarseed were produced. Including Haryana, Punjab and parts of Madhya Pradesh, where farmers are said to have switched over from crops such as cotton, the total acreage under guar is expected to be higher than last year.

“Initially, there were some concerns over the delay in monsoon. However, with the recent rain, the situation is pretty okay now,” said Purshottam Hissaria, Chairman, Guargum Exporters Association.

Guarseed, sown in the kharif season during July-August, is harvested from November onwards.

The guar gum, extracted from the seeds, is used as a thickening agent and additive in food products such as instant soups, ice creams and processed meat products.

Guar gum is also used for applications in paper, textiles, ore floatation, explosives and fracturing of oil and natural gas formations.

Demand prospects

Agarwal said the demand for guar gum was mainly from countries such as the US and Canada, which were tapping shale gas reserves.

He expected global demand to increase as countries such as Brazil, Argentina and China have also announced plans to tap shale gas.

Officials in the Rajasthan Agriculture Department concurred with exporters on the pick-up in guar planting.

“The acreage will be better than last year,” an official said.

Spot prices of guarseed in Rajasthan are trading at Rs 15,000 a quintal, at half the level of Rs 30,000 a quintal in May.

Guar gum prices are ruling at around Rs 450 a kg, Agarwal said.

Futures trade in guarseed is banned at present.

vishwanath.kulkarni@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 16, 2012)
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