The Psyllium Husk or Isabgol is a very popular product across the globe today. Considering the health benefits the product offers it has varied uses in the Pharmaceutical industry, Food industry, Animal feed industry as well the health industry. The benefits are very much discussed in the previous blog on Psyllium Health benefits.
The versatility of this crop has made Psyllium husk a product with high demand today. According to DGFT data, India exported 29,343 tonnes of isabgol in 2011-12; 32,465 tonnes in 2013-14; and 32,325 tonnes in 2014-15. 2013-14 marked the highest export of Isabgol from India, when the production area was around 10,000 hectares. However, after this year the main Isabgol producing states in India have reported a decline in the production area.
Psyllium is produced in India in the dry drought-prone states of Gujarat & Rajasthan. The Isabgol production completely depends on the water availability & requires 3 -4 cycles of water to grow. Psyllium being a Rabi crop (winter crop), there is a climatic risk due to mid-season rains which can also damage the crop. Since past few years, India is experiencing low rainfall & less availability of water in these states, which has prompted for less production for Psyllium as the farmers are not willing to prefer this over other crops. Also, 2018-19 has not been as much a good year considering the pricing front; the farmers hardly got any profits as the production was increasing in the previous years & this resulted in the increased competition which kept the prices steady.
India is the largest exporter of Psyllium all over the globe & has a huge market in the USA, China, Japan & Australia. The Indian Psyllium Husk exporters are now worried as the price for the product is likely to go high & there will be fierce competition fetching those low profits so as to retain the customers. The market is likely to suffer 2000 crore revenue loss for the year 2019-20 which is 20-30% loss. Gujarat has been showing a constant decline in the Psyllium production, however, what is worrisome is that Rajasthan- which was the second largest producer of Psyllium in India has shown a sudden decline in the Psyllium Husk production this year as reported by the Psyllium Husk manufacturers in India.
There are a lot of factors responsible in the production decline for the crop, but the main factors being the risk involved in the production process due to mid-season rains, high water requirement for production, reducing profit margins in the past few years. The government want farmers & the manufacturers of the product to stick to innovative ideas to increase the production as well as discover innovative ways of utilising the product so as to get more benefits in terms of the revenue. However, as per the Psyllium Husk Manufacturers in India, the cost involved in the innovation process is very high. The farmer groups are already stressed with the uneven rainfall in the region & do not have enough resources to spend on R & D facilities required to facilitate any change. This refrains the Indian Psyllium Husk producers from the creation of new ideas. Slowly but gradually the Indian market is moving towards this step to grow their global presence & a lot of Organic products manufacturers & farming groups have come together to help them grow the production of this product along with the various government initiatives. Nonetheless, there still will be lesser Psyllium Husk production for the year 2019-20 until we discover some effective manufacturing techniques & innovative products in the meanwhile. The demand being ever increasing for Psyllium products, hopefully, India will have better production for the coming years!