Agri Business

Turmeric gleams on Bangladesh export orders

Subramani Ra Mancombu Chennai | Updated on March 26, 2021

Lower production, ‘average’ quality could push up the price, say traders

 

Turmeric futures have gained seven per cent in the last two sessions on the National Commodities and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) on export orders to Bangladesh, besides domestic demand and short-covering.

Projections of lower production, too, have been supporting turmeric prices this year.

“Turmeric prices have begun to gain on exports to Bangladesh and Gulf countries,” said Poonam Chand Gupta, a trader in Nizamabad, Telangana.

On NCDEX, the spice quoted at ₹8,644 a quintal, up over three per cent from Thursday’s close. In the last two days, prices have increased from levels of ₹8,000.

NCDEX quoted spot prices at Nizamabad in Telangana at ₹7,594.75 a quintal against ₹7,578 on Thursday.

 

Robust overseas demand

In the Erode market in Tamil Nadu, the modal price for superior variety finger variety turmeric increased to ₹7,905 a quintal from ₹7,763 on Thursday.

“Export orders have come from Bangladesh and Gulf and shipments will begin from April onwards. This could push prices further in the next 10-15 days,” said Sunil Patil, a turmeric supplier from Sangli, Maharashtra.

But traders such as Amrutlal Kataria from Nizamabad and RKV Ravishankar, President of Erode Turmeric Merchants Association, said futures prices have increased in view of the closure of physical markets in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Maharashtra for nearly two weeks from Saturday.

“Futures hit the upper circuit on Thursday. Physical market prices, too, have increased Rs 200 a quintal. Markets are to be closed for Holi and March-end,” said Kataria.

“In Tamil Nadu, the Erode market will be shut from April 2 for 10 days,” said Ravishankar.

Turmeric prices had in fact increased over ₹9,000 a quintal at the beginning of this month on projections of a lower crop this year. Prices are about 30 per cent higher compared with the same period a year ago.

Lower crop

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare’s first advance estimate of horticultural crops, turmeric production is projected to be 11.06 lakh tonnes (lt) this season (July 2020-June 2021) compared with 11.53 lt the previous season.

“Turmeric prices had increased at the start of this month because supplies were lower than demand. As supplies have increased now, the market is trying to find a balance to periodic correction,” said Gupta.

“The crop this year is at least 20 per cent lower as unseasonal rains affected the crop in Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra,” said Kataria. Gupta, too, echoed the view. Kedia Commodities said that there are apprehensions that water-logging and higher moisture due to rains in October in Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka would have an adverse impact on the overall productivity of turmeric.

Sluggish arrivals, poor quality

According to Patil, arrivals have been sluggish proving that the projections of the lower crop are correct. “Arrivals so far this year been 10.15 lakh bags (50 kg each) against 11.50 lakh bags last year and 14 lakh bags in 2019. In places such as Nanded in Maharashtra, arrivals are at least 40 per cent lower,” he said.

“The projection is that the crop is 20 per cent lower this year but we will get to know the real situation only after arrivals are completed,” said Ravishankar.

On top of lower production, the quality of the arrivals is only average. “At least 75 per cent of the arrivals is of average quality in centres such as Nizamabad,” said Patil.

Kedia Commodities said that due to quality concerns, traders in Erode were purchasing turmeric from Nizamabad.

Besides, the stocks in the pipeline have also been lower this year after turmeric exports increased by about 40 per cent this fiscal with Bangladesh being the major buyer.

According to the Spices Board, turmeric exports increased 42 per cent during the April-September period of the current fiscal to 99,000 tonnes compared with 69,500 tonnes during the same period a year ago.

“We expect export orders from Bangladesh,” said Ravishankar.

“Exports this year will not be like last year to Bangladesh. Also, domestic demand is low,” said Kataria.

But traders expect demand to spike for turmeric if the second wave of Covid-19 becomes serious. “Turmeric consumption had surged during the whole of 2020 as people resorted to it an immunity booster against Covid-19,” Kedia Commodities said.

In view of an almost empty pipeline, turmeric prices could begin increasing from next month onwards. “After mid-April, turmeric prices could touch ₹10,000,” said Patil. Kataria said compared with last year, prices could be ₹2,000 higher this year but export demand could result in higher prices.

Published on March 26, 2021

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