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Description | Overview | History | Cultivation pattern | Jeera or Cumin seeds producing countries | Indian jeera market | Major trading centers

Jeera or cumin seed is an oblong shaped, sharp flavored and dark colored aromatic spice that is placed second to pepper in the context of importance. It is actually the dried fruit of an annual, thin-stemmed cumin plant, which belongs to parsley family. The plant has a short height of 25-30 centimeters and has white to red colored flowers. These flowers produce the fruits for the plant that are consumed all over the world as a flavoring agent in whole or grounded form. Jeera is also known for its curing characteristics and hence it is used in many herbal and Ayurvedic medicines.


Jeera or cumin seed has a significant demand as a spice all around the globe especially in the places where spicy food is preferred. It is an integral part of the recipes in various cultures. After pepper, jeera is considered to be the most important spice in the world. Cumin in grounded form also forms part of various spicy mixtures, most important being ‘Garam masala’ (extensively used throughout south Asia), which are again used to add pungent flavors to the dishes and cuisines. It also has a number of medicinal uses and helps in curing many diseases.

India being the world leader in the context of spice production, it is also the largest producer of jeera in the world. Jeera is generally cultivated in the hot and humid climates that is aptly provided by the regions in North Africa, southern parts of the North American continent and Southern Asia. Regarding the consumption pattern of this spice, India again bags the first place. The most of the demand for cumin seeds comes from the food and food processing industry and the world’s total demand except India’s demand sum up to a mere 25 to 30 thousand tons. This shows the country’s dominance in the major jeera consuming countries that are mentioned in the following list

  • India

  • Mexico

  • Portugal

  • Spain

  • Turkey

  • China

  • Japan

  • Netherlands

  • France

  • Morocco

The world market structure regarding jeera is very much concentrated as bulk of the production is performed by a fewer countries and only those countries are able to export this spice to the rest of the world. The major cumin seed exporting countries are

  • India

  • Turkey

  • Iran

India was the primary exporter of cumin seeds and cumin oil in the world since few years but comparatively new entrants in the market like Turkey and Iran are providing stiff competition to now. These countries are able to provide the spice at much cheaper prices than India and hence are gaining advantage over it. Most of the cumin seeds are exported to the countries that do not produce jeera themselves and make huge markets for the spice. These countries are

  • United States of America

  • Sri Lanka

  • United Kingdom

  • Netherlands

  • Japan

  • Brazil

  • Singapore


Jeera or cumin seed is an ancient spice having a history of over 5000 years. The origination of this spice is not known but it is said that the cumin plant is a native to the historical Levant region and northern Egypt. As today, cumin had a role as a flavoring agent throughout its history. It had always been used as a spice and for its medicinal uses. Since its origin it was renowned for its sharp biting taste that proved to be a key factor in making this spice popular and a substitute to the costly pepper. Even Bible has mentioned about jeera not only as a famous spice in the historical times but it was also used as a currency to pay taxes. Cumin also played a very important part as an agent among the ingredients to MUMMIFY pharaohs.

In Greece and Rome, it was a practice to keep cumin powder on the dining table in small containers. When America was found, it was not known there, as it was a spice of the old world until the Spaniards introduced it into the new world. In the middle ages, it was also considered as a symbol of love and was exchanged as gifts. But it somehow lost its reputation and people then started using other alternatives after this time. In the modern era, it has regained its popularity and nowadays it is used extensively all over the world again.

Cultivation pattern

Cumin plant basically thrives on a hot, tropical climate, but can also be cultivated in the cooler regions in a green house. The cumin crop can be produced on almost all soil types but the soil, which suits the best to this crop, is a well-drained, fertile sandy soil type. It needs a minimum of 3 to 4 months of duration period after which it is harvested. Cumin plant has a good tap root system that makes it a drought resistant plant.

In India the jeera plant is grown as a rabi crop i.e. it is sown in the winters in the months of October to December and is harvested in the months of February, March and April. In other cumin cultivating countries in the Middle East, the crop is planted in the months of April and is harvested in the months of August and September. The plant becomes mature and ready to harvest when it turns yellowish brown. After the crop gets harvested, the cumin seeds are cleaned up through the winnowing process.

Jeera or Cumin seeds producing countries

The countries that produce jeera or cumin seeds are

  • India
  • Turkey
  • Syria
  • China
  • United States of America
  • Iran
  • Indonesia
  • Sudan
  • Egypt
  • Morocco
  • Algeria
  • Libya

India represents the world leader in the jeera production. The country produces 1 to 2 lakh tons of cumin seeds annually. Syria stands second in the list with a production figure of 25000 tons. This clears out the India is far more dominant in this context than any other country as it also possess the maximum area in the cultivation of the spice. Turkey and Iran have the same level of production i.e. 15000 to 20000 tons of cumin seeds and that makes them both stand third in the leading producer’s list. Though Syria, Turkey and Iran have a much lesser level of production as compared to India, but these countries have an equally significant influence in the determination of world jeera prices.

Production of jeera in India

India’s production sums up to 1 to 2 lakh tons of jeera per year that makes it the leading producer in the world. The country also has the largest area allotted towards jeera production i.e. around 5.25 lakh hectares. The level of production and the total area under jeera cultivation has increased significantly during the last few years. The major districts that are indulged in the production of this crop are

  • Barmer (Rajasthan)

  • Jalore (Rajasthan)

  • Nagaur (Rajasthan)

  • Pali (Rajasthan)

  • Ajmer (Rajasthan)

  • Bhilwara (Rajasthan)

  • Tonk (Rajasthan)

  • Jodhpur (Rajasthan)

  • Jaisalmer (Rajasthan)

  • Sirohi (Rajasthan)

  • Sikar (Rajasthan)

  • Bikaner (Rajasthan)

  • Banaskantha (Gujarat)

  • Sabarkantha (Gujarat)

  • Mehsana (Gujarat)

  • Patan (Gujarat)

  • Junagarh (Gujarat)

  • Jamnagar (Gujarat)

  • Rajkot (Gujarat)

  • Bhavnagar (Gujarat)

  • Amreli (Gujarat)

  • Surendranagar (Gujarat)

  • Nimach (Madhya Pradesh)

  • Mansoor (Madhya Pradesh)

Rajsthan is largest jeera producing state in the country. It contributed around 1.2 lakh tons in the country’s total produce in the year 2003-04 and it also have the maximum area under jeera cultivation i.e. around 2.25 lakh hectares. Gujarat is the second largest cumin seed producer in India. Rajasthan and Gujarat contribute to approximately 90% of the production in the country.

Indian jeera market

India has ever been the world spice home and has always been renowned for the best and expensive variety of spices that are produced in the country. The similar reputation is repeated in the case of jeera or cumin seeds. Being the largest producer, consumer and exporter of jeera in the world, India claims to be the most dominating player in the world market scenario.

The production of jeera in India hovers around 1 to 2 lakh metric tons as it also has the maximum area granted to the cultivation of this spice. Rajasthan scores the highest production in the country constituting to 55% of the total production in the country. The trend of production is observed to be in a rising trend. The domestic consumption demand of the spice in the country is around 1 lakh tons and the rest of the production is used for export purposes.

India exports around 8000 tons of cumin seed every year. Also, the by products of cumin seeds like oleoresins of cumin seeds and cumin oil is also exported from India. The exports of jeera from India are facing a stiff competition from the countries like Turkey and Iran as a bulk of their production is used for export purposes and also because these countries are able to provide the spice at much cheaper rates as compared to India. That is why; the exports from India have declined since a few years, reason being the contraction in the country’s market share. This scenario, which is depicting a higher production trend and a lower export trend, is proving to be very harmful for the prices of this spice. The countries that import cumin seeds from India are

  • United States
  • Singapore
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Nepal
  • Malaysia

Market Influencing Factors

  • Seasonal variations
  • Broad range demand
  • Weather fluctuations
  • Structure of the market
  • Flow of information
Major trading centers of cumin seeds or jeera

The major trading centers of jeera in India are

  • Unjha (Gujrat)
  • Niwai (Rajasthan)
  • Kekri (Rajasthan)
  • Nagaur (Rajasthan)
  • Jodhpur (Rajasthan)
  • Pratapgarh (Rajasthan)
  • Nembhaheda (Rajasthan)
  • Bhawani mandi (Rajasthan)
  • Jhalarapatan (Rajasthan)
  • Ramganj mandi (Rajasthan)
  • Rani (Rajasthan)
  • Palli (Rajasthan)
  • Kota (Rajasthan)
  • Jaipur (Rajasthan)
  • Rajkot
  • Delhi

Also, jeera is traded in Indian commodity exchanges namely, National Commodity & Derivatives Exchange ltd, Multi Commodity Exchange of India ltd and National Multi Commodity Exchange of India ltd.

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