Turmeric loses sheen as Covid fear affects demand

Subramani Ra Mancombu Chennai | Updated on April 22, 2021

Good offtake continues on the export front, say traders

Turmeric prices have dropped across various agricultural produce marketing committee (APMC) yards in the country mainly on account of slack demand.

“Turmeric prices are down as there is no demand because traders fear a fresh lockdown due to rise in Covid-19 cases could result in stockists’ purchases dropping,” said Nizamabad-based trader Amrutlal Kataria.

Prices have declined by about ₹1,000 a quintal at various APMCs in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Prices in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have slid to below ₹7,400 from about ₹8,400 at the start of the month.

In Karnataka, prices in Chamrajnagar APMC have dropped to ₹5,800 from ₹7,300 during the period. In Telangana’s Nizamabad APMC, however, turmeric prices are ranging between ₹7,050 and ₹6,800 over the last couple of weeks.

“In Telangana, the prices are ranging within the ₹200 margin since demand is weak. But supply is normal,” said another Nizamabad-based trader Poonam Chand Gupta.

“Turmeric prices had run up too high too soon on fears of production being lower. A correction was expected after prices rallied last month. It is happening now and fears of lockdown to tackle Covid have further aided the trend,” said RKV Ravishankar, President of Erode Turmeric Merchants Association.

Turmeric gleams on Bangladesh export orders

In Maharashtra’s Sangli district, the premium Rajapur Salem variety turmeric is quoting at ₹10,450 a quintal from ₹12,150 at the start of the month.

“Arrivals are good but there is no demand particularly from stockists,” said Sunil Patil, a turmeric supplier from Sangli.

“Our turmeric goes to Gujarat, particularly to cities such as Bhavnagar, Jamnagar and Ahmedabad. But purchases from stockists have slowed down since they fear grocery stores will shut due to lockdown,” he said.

“If stockists or traders purchase turmeric here, who will they send the consignments to? In States such as Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra there are strict restrictions on movements,” said Kataria.

“Buyers and traders are thinking twice before making purchases. This is because they think the movement will be totally restricted once shutdown is imposed,” said Ravishankar.

“Until a clear picture emerges on the Covid situation, turmeric prices could be up and down as in Nizamabad,” said Kataria. Gupta concurred with the view.

Ravishankar and Patil said that though arrivals were good, they could taper off from next month. “Arrivals will continue to be good for another 1-2 weeks,” Patil said.

A factor that prevents a steep fall in prices is export demand. “Export demand is good from Bangladesh and Gulf countries,” said Gupta.

“Covid has resulted in good export demand. We have ample stocks and will be able to meet the requirements abroad,” said Kataria.

“There is good demand from Bangladesh and Gulf countries. Shipments to European countries are taking place, though slowly,” said Patil.

30% price surge takes colour off turmeric exports

According to the Spices Board of India, turmeric exports increased 34 per cent in volume during the April-December period of the last fiscal to 1.39 lakh tonnes (1.03 lakh tonnes). The value of shipments increased 19 per cent to ₹2,461 crore during the period.

Patil said turmeric trade would get a clear direction from June onwards when demand could pick up. “It will also determine if the area under turmeric will increase since farmers have viable and better alternatives now,” he said.

If prices rule low, then farmers could switch over to soyabean, whose prices have topped nearly ₹8,000 a quintal.

According to the first advance estimates of horticultural crop for the current season to June, turmeric production is projected to be lower at 11.06 lakh tonnes (lt) against 11.53 lt last year.

Turmeric production is estimated to be lower this year mainly in view of unseasonal rains damaging the crop in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana during September-October last year. In Tamil Nadu, dry weather impacted the crop.

The lower production had resulted in turmeric price rallying over ₹9,000 a quintal in early part of March. Last year during the same time, prices ruled below ₹6,700.

Published on April 22, 2021

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