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Coriander Seed Import Along with Crude Oil Increased Trade with Moscow

Along with the exponential increase in India's imports of Russian crude oil in recent months, another commodity, the relatively humble coriander seed, or sabut dhaniya, is spicing up trade with Moscow.

Shivam Dwivedi
Coriander seed imports had increased moderately year on year in the previous two fiscal years
Coriander seed imports had increased moderately year on year in the previous two fiscal years

Although the volume and value of coriander seed imports from Russia are not in the same league as petroleum or even thermal coal, there has been a significant increase in imports. According to official trade data, coriander seed imports from Russia increased by 1,313% year on year in the first eight months of the current fiscal year to just over 23,000 tonnes.


In terms of value, the spice's import from Russia increased by 1,272% from April to November to $18.64 million, up from a meagre $1.36 million in the same period last year. While total coriander seed imports in India increased nearly 250% year on year to 26,143 tonnes, imports from Russia increased at a disproportionately faster rate. Russia accounted for 88% of India's coriander seed imports during the time period under consideration.

Coriander seed imports had increased moderately year on year in the previous two fiscal years, while imports from Russia had actually decreased. In terms of value, coriander seed imports increased disproportionately to the overall increase in commodity imports. Overall spice imports more than doubled year on year to $22.24 million from $10.20 million in April-November.

However, Moscow's share increased to nearly 84% from around 13% the previous year. The analysis is based on country-specific import data released by the Commerce Ministry for harmonized system code - or HS code - 090921, which stands for 'Coriander seeds: neither crushed nor ground'. Import data by country and commodity are released with a lag, and the government has only released data through November.


India holds a unique position in the global trade and production of coriander. The country is a major importer, producer, consumer, and exporter of coriander seeds. Russia, Italy, and Bulgaria are also among the top exporters. Lower domestic production, according to some market participants, sent domestic coriander seed prices soaring, greatly expanding the price differential between Indian and Russian coriander seeds, with the latter available at a discount to prices offered by traders in Italy and Bulgaria.

This resulted in far greater than usual quantities of the spice being imported from Russia. Some even claimed that, while domestic production was lower, excessive speculation by some traders caused market fears, resulting in a flood of significantly cheaper Russian coriander into the domestic market. Coriander seed imports from Italy and Bulgaria, on the other hand, fell dramatically year on year, by 83.9% and 40.8%, respectively. Italy was India's largest supplier of the spice in the corresponding eight months of 2021-22, with Bulgaria a close third behind Russia.

Recent trends in coriander seed exports from India validate lower domestic output and related fears as major factors driving the increase in imports. From April to November, the country's exports of the commodity fell by nearly a fifth, or 5,050 tonnes, to nearly 21,317 tonnes. Exports fell nearly 12% year on year in the previous fiscal year's corresponding period, but rose 18.7% in April-November of 2020-21.


Coriander is a rabi crop that is planted in October-December and harvested from February to May. Coriander is primarily grown in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. The most common variety of Indian coriander seeds is Badami, followed by Eagle, Scooter, Double Parrot, Single Parrot, and Super Green.


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