L.N. Revathy

Coimbatore, Jan. 10

THE Domestic and Export Market Intelligence Cell (DEMIC) of the Centre for Agricultural and Rural Development Studies (CARDS) has advised growers to offload sesame stock before March to get the best rates. It is currently quoting between Rs 28 and Rs 32 a kg. Analysts perceive price decline post-March.

Stable demand for sesame oil, good crop prospects and continuous supply of grains from other States signal heavy arrivals in the coming months. "This would tend to pull the prices downward although sesame has not recorded wide fluctuations in the past,'' the CARDS Director, Dr N. Raveendran, told

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Studies show that a good number of sesame growers are small and marginal farmers, who depend on rainfed agriculture. While this group of farmers sell the produce immediately, those with relatively large holdings stock and sell the produce to recover the best possible rate.

Oil millers, too, purchase during the peak period and store their annual requirement. DEMIC's survey has confirmed that the millers sourced the produce from other States based on the price and availability. While this has helped them contain their input cost, growers have never been able to plan to get a better deal, as the crop is harvested in summer and winter, making it available throughout the year.

Area coverage

: The total area under sesame in Tamil Nadu is around 83,835 hectares. This is just about 1.57 per cent of the total cropped area and 8.05 per cent of the total edible oil area in the State. Villupuram, Cuddalore, Karur, Erode and Peramballur are the major districts contributing to 51 per cent of the State area and 55 per cent of production. Productivity is highest in Erode at over 625 kg/hectare.

More than 80 per cent of sesame is cultivated as a kharif crop. In the northern part, it is a kharif crop but in central India it is grown in three seasons such as kharif, rabi and summer.

According to Dr Raveendran, labour alone accounts for about 82 per cent of the cultivation cost followed by fertiliser and manure and seeds.

Sivagiri and Peramballur (Jayamkondam) are the two important markets in Tamil Nadu, while Erode among others is a major producing district.

Price movement

: A study of the price movements between 2002 and 2005 reveal that the rates rose to a level of Rs 3,500 plus a quintal in mid-2004 from a low of Rs 2,000in 2002. The rates have slipped to Rs 2,200 in the last quarter of 2005, after hovering at around Rs 3,000 up to the first half of 2005.

Market sources said the `red' type accounted for 75 per cent of the total sesame seeds, compared to the white and black types. White sesame, used in confectionary and table purpose is mostly exported.

Arrivals peak between March and July. Since the produce is available all through the year, it is sourced from Karnataka between July and September, from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh in November and December and from Orissa in January and February.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 11, 2006)
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