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From Soil to Spice: A Day In The Life Of Cumin Farmer

India is a land of farmers, in fact it employs almost 60% of the working population in India and contributes roughly 18% to the GDP. Farming thus becomes the most important occupation in India and that is where we get our raw material from i.e. Spices.


We work very closely with farmers, apart from buying their produce from Unjha Mandi(What makes Unjha significant?) we also interact with them to understand how and what does the future hold for various spices crops. But this time was very special as we got invited by farmers from the eastern part of Gujarat near the city of Rajkot.



We spent a day with their family and we got to understand very closely the entire process of growing Cumin. In this blog post we will share the entire experience which will give our readers a clear picture on how cumin is grown and how it reaches your plate.


Cumin: A Petite Marvel of the Parsley Family

The cumin plant, standing at a modest 30-50cm, belongs to the parsley family. A delicate herb, it is carefully nurtured and harvested around February in various regions of India. The meticulous process involves handpicking the plants, making cumin cultivation a labor-intensive endeavour. (Tap to read more about harvesting cycle of various Indian spices)





Cumin is a sensitive Crop

During our immersive day in the fields, we discovered the delicate nature of the cumin plant. It thrives in dry weather conditions but is susceptible to diseases that could devastate the entire crop, leaving farmers with nothing. The commitment of these farmers is commendable; they invest time, care, and sometimes resort to the use of pesticides to shield the crop from potential threats. The allure of the high prices witnessed in 2023 motivated them to undertake the challenge. As we traversed the fields, we encountered not only the fragrant cumin plants but also the persistent presence of weeds.



What happens after harvesting?

Once the cumin plants are delicately removed by hand, they rest in the fields to bask in the sun for a few days. This period of drying is crucial for the subsequent steps. Threshers then come into play, skillfully separating the precious seeds from the plant. Waste not, want not – the discarded plant material finds purpose as fodder for cattle. The journey doesn’t end in the fields; it continues to Unjha and similar Mandis, where the cumin undergoes meticulous cleaning and packaging. Here, it transforms from a rustic harvest into the refined spice destined for kitchens worldwide. Farmers expect an average yield of 160-180 kilograms of cumin per hectare in a single season.





Significant stats around cumin production

India is the largest producer and consumer of cumin globally.

The two leading states contributing to nearly 99% of India’s cumin production are Rajasthan and Gujarat.

In terms of global production, India stands out, while other countries like Syria, Turkey, Iran, and China also cultivate cumin, albeit in smaller quantities. Below are the summarised production stats for 2023-24.


  1. Expansive Growth in Cumin Cultivation: The total area devoted to cumin seed cultivation in Gujarat and Rajasthan has seen a remarkable surge, increasing by an impressive 63.4% from 773,000 ha in the previous year to a substantial 1,264,000 ha.

  2. Enhanced Yields: Average yields have experienced a positive upswing, rising by 4.1% (Kg/ha) compared to the previous year.

  3. Bountiful Harvest: The synergy of expanded cultivation and improved yields has led to a substantial surge in cumin production, recording a 70% increase from 333 thousand tons to a robust 566 thousand tons.


Find the detailed market report here.


Conclusion

Our journey into the cumin fields of Gujarat was more than a mere exploration; it was a lesson in resilience, dedication, and the delicate balance required to nurture a spice that graces our tables. As we savour the rich aroma and flavour of cumin in our dishes, let us remember the hands that toil and the fields that yield, bridging the gap between farm and fork.


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