Mustard cultivation shrinks as rains make farmers turn to wheat, pulses

Chandigarh: Mustard cultivation this rabi season is set to be less than last year because adequate rains this year, along with stagnant prices of the oilseed, have prompted many farmers to turn to alternative crops such as wheat and pulses, experts said.

The sown area of mustard in Rajasthan—the largest producer of the oilseed—has shrunk to around 2.1 million hectares this winter from 2.5 million hectares a year ago, a senior official of Rajasthan agriculture department said.

“The mustard cropping area so far has come down from usual, primarily as adequate rains have provided required moisture for growing wheat and gram,” the official said.He said that the sowing could marginally increase as it could be extended by a week.

Mustard seed prices generally follow an uptrend during winters when mustard oil is widely used for body massage. But this time, significant carryover stock from a bumper yield last season has curtailed this spike in prices.

“The spot seed price of mustard is not expected to show much upswing from current levels of Rs 45-46 per kg as higher carry over stock is keeping up the supply,” said Sunil Shah, a mustard trader based in Kota said.

Another reason for shrinking of area under mustard cultivation this season is adequate fodder stock with farmers, experts said. “The cultivation of mustard is also driven by requirement for fodder but this kharif season additional rains had increased availability of fodder with farmers,” said the official quoted earlier.

In Uttar Pradesh, too, the acreage of mustard is likely to come down marginally. “The sowing is complete on seven lakh hectares but prevailing rains could exhort farmers to other crops as sowing is extended till December 10,” a state agriculture department official said.

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Mustard oil is widely used for cooking in many states, and traders said the demand has been rising in recent years. “Higher yield has ensured smooth supply of raw material; it has taken away price volatility from raw material,” said Umesh Verma, deputy general manager at Puri Oil Mills.



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