Commodity futures for farmers
Thousands of guar farmers in India are today caught in a vicious cycle fuelled by the spectacular rise in the prices of guar seed and guar gum products during the six months period between October 2011 and March 2012.
The prices of guar seed (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba) and guar gum (extracted from guar seed) rose over 900 percent in the futures markets during this period largely due to speculative buying (coupled with market manipulation through circular trading, cross deals and other market abusive practices) by big traders and non-commercial players. The rally in the prices came to an end when Forward Markets Commission (FMC), the commodity derivatives market regulator, suspended the guar futures trading on March 27, 2012. For a detailed account of speculative feeding frenzy and price rigging practices in guar futures contracts, see .
Last year, the guar farmers did not benefit from the price hike as they had sold their produce several weeks before prices began spiraling upward in the commodity futures markets in late October 2011.
Anticipating a similar price hike this year, thousands of farmers in Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab shifted to guar cultivation. Such was the euphoria of last year unprecedented price boom that several farmers in far away states and different agro-climatic regions (such as Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh) also shifted to guar cultivation. Many guar farmers took short-term loans (with higher interest rates) from local moneylenders and financiers to buy seeds at much higher prices than last year. “For the first time, we cultivated guar on all 125 acres of family landholding with the hope of benefitting from higher prices, ” said Surendra Kumar Chaudhary, a big farmer from Khajuwala tehsil of Bikaner district (Rajasthan). “We were encouraged by traders, seed companies, processing units and local government officials to go full swing into guar cultivation and reap the benefits from higher prices.” In early 2012, some guar gum processing units in Rajasthan even promised to buy the entire crop at a higher support price.
The Economic Function of Futures Markets
Book (Cambridge University Press)
What is An Exchange Traded Fund?
An exchange traded fund is a security that tracks an index of assets but trades like a stock on an exchange. Their price changes during the day as they are bought and sold.