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Mustard Farmers in Trouble Due to Russia- Ukraine Conflict

How the conflict unfolds is set to influence farmers as they make decisions on whether to sell crops in the mandis or hold these for a few more months in anticipation of better prices.

Ayushi Raina
Farmers are closely monitoring the Ukraine-Russian conflict and would be cautious in releasing inventories in the market
Farmers are closely monitoring the Ukraine-Russian conflict and would be cautious in releasing inventories in the market

Basant Ram Sharma, a farmer from the Muruwara village of Rajasthan's Bharatpur district, who planted mustard on 6.5 hectares this season, has been visiting the mustard mandi at this country's trading hub to examine the existing mandi rates.

While Sharma is just starting to harvest his mustard crop, he is also keeping a close eye on the Ukraine conflict. The outcome of the battle will have an impact on farmers like Sharma, who will have to decide whether to sell crops in the mandis or store them for a few more months in expectation of higher prices. 

While current mustard mandi prices are about Rs.6400 per quintal, which is much more than the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs.5050 per quintal for the current season, farmers like Sharma are holding on to their stocks even though the peak arrivals time is set to commence from March 15. 

“I will wait till mandi prices reach Rs.7500 per quintal and then sell my harvest,” Sharma stated. He anticipates a harvest of around 30 quintal per hectare which he will store for the time being and bring into mandi gradually. 

Despite an expected bumper mustard output of 11.45 million tonnes in the 2021-22 crop year, a number of farmers spoke to also confirmed that they are hanging onto their stocks in expectation of higher prices (July-June). 

India, which imports around 55 percent of its total domestic edible oil requirement, relies on Ukraine for sunflower, which had a 14 percent share of the overall edible oil import basket in 2020-21. Farmers predict increased prices as a result of supply disruptions caused by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia farmers anticipate that higher demand for mustard which will push up prices further. 

"Farmers are closely monitoring the Ukraine-Russian conflict and would be cautious in releasing inventories in the market," said Krishan Kumar Agarwal, president of the Bharatpur Oil Millers Association. 

According to traders and commission agents at the mustard mandi, 55-60% of the mustard harvest arrives between March 15 and April 30. Farmers, however, continue to bring in their harvest in succeeding months, although in smaller quantities. 

Farmers are already arriving at the designated market yard for mustard at a rate of roughly 6,000 quintals per day, which is expected to increase to 10,000 quintals per day in the following weeks. 

According to officials, the Bharatpur district is Rajasthan's largest mustard growing division, accounting for more than 48 percent of the state's overall production. Alwar, Sriganganagar, Sawaimadhopur, and Jhunjhunu are also important mustard farming districts. In terms of mustard cultivation area, Rajasthan has a 45 percent share in the current season, while significant producing states include Uttar Pradesh (12 percent), Madhya Pradesh (12 percent), and Haryana (9 percent). 

Oilseeds like mustard, peanut, and sunflower were planted in 101 lakh hectares (LH) during the rabi sowing season (2021-22), a 22 percent increase over prior years, according to the ministry of agriculture. Among them, mustard sowing jumped by 24 percent to 91 LH, compared to close to 73 LH reported a year before. 

India generates around 45 percent of domestic edible oil consumption, with mustard accounting for 39 percent, soybean (24 percent), and groundnut (14 percent) (7 percent). In 2021-22, edible oil imports are expected to total Rs.1.5 lakh tonnes. 

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