Low demand forces guar farmers to switch to pulses

Guar plants
Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Guar gum farmers in India are likely to switch to growing pulses after a cut-back in U.S. shale drilling affected the guar prices. The prices of guar, which is used as a thickening agent in frac fluids, have fallen 41 per cent in one year while the prices of pulses such as red gram have nearly doubled over the same period.

“At the current price guar is not profitable. Pulses, paddy are giving better returns,” Balbir Arniawali, a farmer from Sirsa district of northern state of Haryana, told Business Standard. Arniawali has not sold last year’s harvest, hoping prices will recover, and has scaled back planting to 15 acres this year from 25 last year. Planting starts in June with the arrival of monsoon rains.

India, which produces 80 per cent of the world’s guar gum, saw exports from April to February fall 48 per cent to 329,070 tonnes from a year ago, with prices falling down to Rs 55 per kg from Rs 120 a year ago.

“This has not gone down well with farmers and a large section of them will shift to other remunerative crops. With MSP of pulses being increased farmers may shift to pulses,” P.K. Hissaria, managing director, Sunita Hydrocolloids told Economic Times of India.

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