Firm domestic demand coupled with increased international buying has pushed up jeera prices both in the spot and futures market even as fresh crop arrivals hit market of Unjha, a main trading hub for the spice.

Prices are nearly up 10-15 per cent during March, while trade sources expect them to firm up from the current levels on increased demand and fears of crop damage on account of the recent unseasonal rains in the key growing regions of western India. At the expiry of March contract on Friday, jeera prices hit a high of ₹15,255 a quintal from the intra-day lows of ₹14,990 before settling at ₹15,200 on the National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX).

Prices edge up

“Fresh demand is seen since the past couple of days. In March, we saw sharp fluctuations in prices from ₹130 a kg to ₹150 now. Firm demand from domestic buyers and exports has pushed up prices in the futures,” said Arvind Patel, an Unjha-based commodity analyst. In the Unjha spot market, prices of the spice were at ₹14,987-15,000 a quintal. However, experts believe that there was marginal damage to the crop in parts of Rajasthan and that it was not likely to jack up the prices in the immediate future.

Short-term bullishness

Bhaskar Shah, Managing Director of Jabs International, a spice exporter, expressed bearish sentiment about jeera considering the production prospects.

“Prices may remain up for a short time, but in a few weeks prices are likely to fall. The reason is exports may not be as encouraging as it seems currently. There are several countries resorting to currency devaluation. Egypt did it recently by devaluating their currency by 13 per cent. Also, at some destinations, there are forex issues and payments are getting delayed. In such scenario, all hopes are on China, which has so far remained a small buyer with about 10 per cent of India’s total cumin exports,” said Shah, who is also the Vice-Chairman of Spices Board of India.

Export scenario

Jeera exports are expected to be around 1 lakh tonnes, which is in line with the average of last two years’ exports. Production is likely to be around 350,000 tonnes this year. Jeera arrival starts in March and continues through May. “During these three months about 22-26 lakh bags (of 55 kg each) are likely to arrive. So far, about 6-7 lakh bags have arrived in Unjha market. Export demand will pick up in April, which will further boost prices,” said Patel.

On the NCDEX, jeera April contract traded at ₹14,910 – up 1.88 per cent or ₹275 on Friday. Far month, jeera June contract was up 1.36 per cent or ₹205 at ₹15,270 a quintal, thereby indicating a further upside.