India has gone from being a net garlic importer to a major global exporter this year due to shortfall in Chinese production, reports Indian newspaper The Financial Express (FE).
National garlic exports for the first 11 months of the current financial year were up 66 per cent in volume and 138 per cent in value terms over the same period last year, the paper said.
A reduced Chinese crop and good domestic Indian production were cited as reasons for the spike in exports to new markets Pakistan, Thailand and Malaysia, as well as India's traditional market Bangladesh.
Exports would have been much higher, but unseasonable rains during the last quarter of 2010 disrupted Indian production and led to a steep rise in prices which dented sales, the paper said.
Indian traders predict exports are likely to increase further during the 2011 season as Indian garlic prices come down and Chinese volumes remain low.
"Retail price in the domestic market even touched Rs300 per kg in December 2010. Prices are down by Rs40-50 per kg and exports are back," Kanubhai Mehta, a Mumbai-based trader told FE. "It is reported that the Chinese crop for 2011 is also lower and the good harvest in India would result in higher exports," he added.
India's Spices Board estimate's national annual garlic production at around 10m tonnes, according to FE. Production is expensive due to low productivity, poor varieties and a high cost of farming.
Indian garlic is mainly cultivated during the winter months. Acreage is reported to be rising.