Aggressive buying of Gujarat Junagadh Groundnut-9 (GJG-9) and Kadiri-66 (K9) by Tamil Nadu traders has persuaded Jamnagar farmers to grow more of these two new varieties that are, otherwise, not cultivated on a large scale in Gujarat.
The traders from Tamil Nadu are paying high rates for these two varieties and are supplying them to farmers in their state as seed as yield of these varieties remains high in the southern state, say traders.
Agriculture Minister Raghavji Patel, who is an MLA from Jamnagar Rural, claims that more farmers are selling their groundnut in the open market as they are realising prices higher than the government fixed Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 5,550 per quintal.
However, the trading data from major groundnut markets suggest that only these two varieties — GJG-9 and K-66 — that account for only about 25 percent of the total groundnut traded in only one market — the agriculture produce market committee (APMC) in Jamnagar — are being sold at higher rates, thanks to huge demand from Tamil Nadu traders.
Since the groundnut procurement began in the state, the Agriculture Minister has been maintaining that prices of the oilseeds in the open market have been ruling higher than the MSP and hence the tepid response to the government procurement.
But as a matter of fact, only the Jamnagar APMC, where Patel was chairman till July and continues to be on its board of directors, has reported prices higher than the MSP for these two varieties, going by trading data from major groundnut markets.
Traders from Tamil Nadu say while groundnut cultivation is gaining popularity in their state, the climate is unsuitable for the production of seed-quality groundnut there in summer and hence, their dependence on Gujarat.
Pushparaj Veerappan, a trader from Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu and who has been camping in Jamnagar, told The Indian Express: “Tamil Nadu farmers sow groundnut in December during the South-East monsoon season and harvest it in March. They grow the second crop of groundnut in the summer beginning from April and harvest it in June-July. The groundnut they harvest in March is good-quality and retain some part of their harvest as seed for the next crop cycle while the rest is in the market. But the size of pods and kernels of groundnut harvested in June-July remain small due to climate. Therefore, farmers need fresh seed stock for sowing during the South-East monsoon season every year and therefore we come to Gujarat.”
According to Veerappan, more farmers are taking up groundnut cultivation due to good returns. “Also, importers from Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, etc are offering good rates to farmers of Tamil Nadu. Besides, No.9,66 and 7 varieties are high-yielding varieties in Tamil Nadu agroclimatic zone,” he said. The trader added that groundnut acreage in districts like Puddukottai, Thanjavur, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Chennai districts is increasing.
Ramesh Makwana, a farmer from Alia-Bada village who owns 30-bigha and also cultivates another 50 bigha after taking it on a lease, is among those who has started growing for the Tamil Nadu traders.
“I sowed GJG-9 in 10 bigha (6.25 bigha make a hectare) on an experimental basis, keeping in mind the demand from Tamil Nadu. As it rained very heavily in September, the yield remained low. My total harvest from 10 bigha was 17 quintals. My groundnut was good enough to attract Rs 7,500 per quintal but got sold at Rs 6,500 since pods of other varieties, which I had grown last year in the same field, got mixed up with GJG-9. Nonetheless, at these levels of prices, sowing GJG-9 makes sense though I have traditionally been growing GJG-20 and GJG-22.”
Elsewhere, modal price (the price at which a majority volume of a commodity is sold on a given day) is generally lower than the government-fixed rate for the oilseeds.
“The price for these varieties is high because traders from Tamil Nadu are purchasing aggressively. They have been operating in our yard for the past six to seven years. No wonder, farmers of Jamnagar have started increasing the planting area of these varieties which also offer good yield,” says Raghavji Patel.
Last Kharif marketing season also, the Tamil Nadu traders were offering more than Rs 7,000 per quintal for these two varieties of peanuts having spheroidal kernels with pink skin. “This year also, around 40 traders from the southern state have been camping in the city and are operating through local traders registered with our APMC,” said Hitesh Patel, secretary of Jamnagar APMC.
Jatin Poojara, a trader who is coordinating between the Tamil Nadu traders and the local traders in Jamnagar APMC, said the traders from the southern state have been purchasing an average of 220 quintals of groundnut on a daily basis these days.
Since the procurement process began on October 8 for buying groundnut at MSP of Rs 5,550 per quintal, nine out of every 100 on an average are turning up to sell to the government. The Minister claims this is because of “record prices in the open market” and had cited Rs 8,000 per quintal, the highest price realised by farmers in Jamnagar APMC in the beginning of the procurement season early this month, as an example.
However, the price in the range of Rs 6,000 to Rs 8,000 per quintal in the Jamnagar APMC was only for GJG-9 and K-66 varieties.
“Of the total arrivals of 19,310.8 quintals from November 1 to 17, magfali jadi (Bold or Runner and Virginia bunch varieties of groundnut) account for about 50 percent while magfali jini (Java or Spanish bunch varieties of groundnut) account for the remaining 50 per cent. GJG-9 and K-66 account for around 20-25 per cent of total arrivals,” the secretary said.
The secretary added that farmers prefer to sell in the open market because of immediate payment as opposed to selling to the government at MSP where payment takes time. “The quality of groundnut also has to be good to meet norms set by the government for MSP procurement whereas in APMCs groundnut of any grade gets sold. Also, share-croppers generally sell soon after harvest to settle accounts with the land-owners,” he explained.
Gondal and Rajkot are the two biggest wholesale markets of groundnut in the state and the modal price of Bold, and Virginia and Java has been hovering near Rs 5,300. “It is not fair to cherry-pick the price of a variety whose trading volumes are limited and project it as index price for the entire group of that commodity. That can mislead farmers into believing that prices of groundnut are very high and prompt them to rush their harvest to market,” said the secretary of a major APMC.
But TN traders said Jamnagar is offering the best quality groundnut this season. “We checked groundnut in Rajkot and Gondal APMCs also, but the quality was found wanting. Therefore, we are purchasing from Jamnagar and some amount from Kutch,” Veerappan said.
Gujarat accounts for around 50 percent of India’s total groundnut production and within the state, 11 districts of the Saurashtra region, including Jamnagar, produce the maximum of this oilseed. GJG-20, a Vergina group variety is widely grown in Saurashtra.
“Jamnagar, too, has traditionally been a belt of GJG-20. But we are told that Tamil Nadu traders are offering good rates for these two varieties. So farmer here are multiplying their seed stock and increasing their acreage,” said Babu Agath, district agricultural officer of Jamnagar.
🗞️ Subscribe Now: Get Express Premium to access our in-depth reporting, explainers and opinions 🗞️