The South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC), a Jodhpur-based policy advocacy group in improving crops quality, has teamed up with farmers in western Rajasthan to promote IPM cumin, which commands 10-20% higher rates than the normal variety due to its demand in the export market.
The organisation plans to include more seed spice crops like fenugreek, isabgol and fennel under its programme to help farmers realise better prices.
“We have developed a module which farmers are using to produce cumin without pesticide residue … IPM cumin becomes the first preference of the exporters as it does not have any stress of residue,” said Bhagirath Choudhary, director of SABC.
To intensify IPM cumin production in Barmer and other districts of Rajasthan — India’s biggest producer of cumin — the SABC has collaborated with the Department of Biotechnology, Spices Board and ICAR’s National Research Centre on Seed Spices.
The area under cumin in Barmer was 1,71,482 hectare in 2019-20, which is almost a quarter of the state’s total acreage under the crop. But the yield in Barmer is one of the lowest in the state at less than five quintal/hectare as against eight quintal/hectare in Jodhpur, Choudhary said.
Other districts growing cumin include Jodhpur (1,68,050 hectare), Jalore (1,27,564 hectare), Jaisalmer (87,046 hectare) and Nagaur (72,815 hectare). The total area under cumin in the country was estimated at 8.5 lakh hectare in 2019-20.
“IPM cumin is the future of cumin farming in Barmer. Farmers were struggling to manage insect pests such as aphids and thrips with the current production practices. As part of the DBT-SABC biotech Kisan hub, we have introduced a new concept of managing pests with proper use of yellow and blue sticky trips, biological and botanical,” Choudhary said. He said farmers are very supportive of the practices.
Seed spices make up about 22% of the total spice exports from India, estimated at $3 billion (over `22,000 crore). Rajasthan and Gujarat together form the seed spice bowl of India, contributing major shares in global production as well.
Exporters from western Rajasthan have demanded that the Spices Board ensures that more volume goes out of the Jodhpur-based Thar dry port (ICD). For this, a separate spice mandi may be established or the existing Jodhpur jeera mandi may be expanded so that more processing units come up in nearby areas, they have said. The volume of seed spice export from Gujarat is higher as most of the crop goes to Unjha mandi from western Rajasthan and is shipped from Kandla.