India dislodges China as garlic leader

Written by Rajesh Ravi | Kochi | Updated: Jun 29 2010, 06:29am hrs
From being a net importer of garlic, India has turned into a big supplier of garlic to the global markets because of good domestic production and poor supplies from China, the traditional powerhouse of garlic trade.

Apart from its traditional market of Bangladesh, Indian garlic are now exported even to Pakistan, Thailand and Malaysia.

According to Spices Board figures, garlic exports increased during the last fiscal by 1314 % in volume terms and 769% in value terms. In the current financial year, exports have maintained the growth trend with nearly 5,425 tonne exported in April alone, an increase of 6,282 % over the same period last year.

Spices Board sources point out that India used to import nearly 15,000-20,000 tonne of garlic per annum from China due to good domestic demand.

China is the worlds largest producer of garlic with more than 60-65% of the total share with India coming second or third with an output of 8 lakh tonne.

India is also a major consumer of garlic with both South and North Indian cuisines featuring it. India produces the small cloved varieties, with a high number of cloves,which the domestic market consumes.

However, for export bigger clove garlic with lesser number of cloves is preferred.

China is the market-maker in garlic. According to reports, the last Chinese crop was a complete failure compelling countries like Malaysia and Indonesia to procure from India , Kanubhai Mehta, a prominent garlic trader from Mumbai told FE. Spices Board estimates garlic production in 2009-10 to touch 850,000 tonne.

The Indian crop, which arrived in the market by February, is definitely higher or else the market price would have moved up more, Kanubhai Mehta said. There are reports that some crop were destroyed in Gujarat due to early rains.

The average price for garlic has moved up by 50% to touch Rs 51 per kg .Currently, garlic is selling in the range of Rs 51-75 per kg ( Rs 75 for the premium variety) as against Rs 35-45 per kg during the same period last year. Indian garlic production is expensive due to low productivity, poor genotypes, and high cost of farming. In India, garlic is mainly cultivated during the winter season.