A bumper mustard crop is posing a major challenge for farmers, who are grappling with falling price realisations.
All eyes are on the Central agencies to come to the rescue to growers as prices have already dipped below the minimum support price (MSP) levels of ₹4,425 per quintal. Spot prices polled by the NCDEX from Alwar market in Rajasthan on Thursday quoted at ₹4,012 per quintal, which is about ₹400 lower from the MSP.
Plea to govt
“With a reasonably big crop coupled with poor sentiments, we feel prices would come under pressure and mustard may sell below MSP. It is imperative that government agencies such as Nafed start procurement or compensate the farmers via Bhavantar,” Atul Chaturvedi, President, Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA), said in a statement.
The mustard acreage was reported to be 69.51 lakh hectares, a tad lower than last year’s 69.71 lakh hectares. But a good monsoon in the growing regions of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh lifted the prospects of better yield at 1,110 kg per hectare as against 1,075 kg per hectare.
However, untimely rains in some parts have cast a shadow on the estimated higher crop.
Curbs on exports
“This year’s mustard crop seems to be in good shape and we may witness one of the highest crops in recent memory. However, rains in some growing areas may have damaged the crop and the final number may not be what we have been expecting,” Chaturvedi added.
The trade body has also urged the Union Commerce Ministry to consider lifting the controls on bulk export of mustard oils, which is currently capped at 5-kg pack size and a minimum export price (MEP) for export of rapeseed/mustard oil.
“The export of mustard oil in bulk, may not be in large quantity but it will definitely impact market sentiments and support the price level,” Chaturvedi said.
The SEA has also collaborated with international body Solidaridad to develop model mustard farms and encourage and showcase better farm practices and seed quality.
“We have been pushing the government to launch a Mustard Mission as we feel this oilseed has immense potential and is ideally suited for India. The results of model mustard farms have been very encouraging and we feel it is time the government takes this in mission mode on pan-India basis,” Chaturvedi said, adding that mustard could be one of the answers to rein in the burgeoning oil import bill.