MUMBAI, July 16 (Reuters) - Indian turmeric futures rose to a new contract high on Monday due to the slow progress of the monsoon, which could hit sowing operations and crop output.
* The total area under cultivation in India, the world’s biggest producer and exporter of the yellow spice, is likely to fall 30 percent this season.
* Rainfall until July 11 in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, the country’s biggest turmeric producer, was significantly lower, weather office data showed. While rainfall in Rayalaseema and Telangana was 39 percent and 17 percent below average respectively, it was 6 percent below average in coastal Andhra.
* The states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are expected to receive rains in the next couple of days, the weather office said on its website.
* “Our area has received some rains in the last two-three days but overall movement is very slow and more rains are required for the proper growth of the crop,” said Suresh Chowdhary, a trader from Nizamabad, a key market in Andhra Pradesh.
* At 0841 GMT, the August contract on the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange (NCDEX) was up 2.99 percent to 5,450 rupees per 100 kg after hitting a contract high of 5,478 rupees.
* Turmeric is planted between June and August and takes about nine months to harvest.
* At Nizamabad, spot turmeric rose 195 rupees to 4,611 rupees per 100 kg.
Jeera, or cumin seed, futures hit a fresh contract high on weather concerns and robust overseas demand amid slack local supplies.
* India’s monsoon rains were 1 percent above average for the week ended on July 11 as rains improved in central India, the weather office said on Thursday, the first weekly above average rains in the current season.
* The August jeera contract on the NCDEX was up 1.23 percent to 16,035 rupees per 100 kg, after hitting a contract high of 16,247.5 rupees.
* “If the ground moisture does not pick up, it may affect the sowing of jeera in the upcoming season. Export demand is also very strong,” said Ankita Parekh, an analyst at Nirmal Bang.
* Jeera is a winter crop, the planting of which begins in October, and farmers depend on the monsoon to moisten the land for sowing.
* Traders expect consumption of jeera to increase in the coming weeks, ahead of the festive season that begins next month.
* At Unjha, a leading market in Gujarat, jeera rose 58 rupees to 15,508 rupees per 100 kg.
Pepper futures were weak as traders cashed out gains at higher levels supported by weak overseas sales, but improved seasonal demand from domestic buyers amid a squeeze in spot supplies restricted losses.
* The most-active August contract on the NCDEX fell 0.59 percent to 43,050 rupees per 100 kg. It has risen more than 4 percent since the start of the month.
* “Buying interest is firm because seasonal demand has picked up. Prices are unlikely to fall below 42,500 rupees while (on the) upside it may touch 44,000 rupees in short term,” said Parekh.
* Analysts said India origin pepper is outpriced in the global market as it costs around $700-$1,000 per tonne, higher than other suppliers.
* India is the third largest pepper producing country in the world after Vietnam and Indonesia.
* In Kochi, a key market in Kerala, spot pepper rose 132.5 rupees to 41,810.5 rupees. (Reporting by Meenakshi Sharma; Editing by Jijo Jacob)