General Characteristics

  • Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) (Hindi name: Jau), a cereal grain derived from an annual grass is the fourth most important cereal crop in the world after rice, wheat and maize.
  • Barley is very adaptable and is a widely grown crop. It is cultivated as a summer crop in temperate areas and as a winter crop in tropical areas. Barley has a short growing season and is also relatively drought tolerant. However, it is a tender grain and care has to be taken in all stages of its growth and harvest.
  • Barley is used as livestock feed, human food and barley malt. While, historically, livestock consumed most of barley produced globally, this is no more the case now. Currently food and industrial consumption of barley is more prominent.
  • Barley along with corn/maize, sorghum (jowar), oats, pearl millet (bajra), finger millet (ragi) and other minor millets are grouped together as coarse cereals.


Global Scenario

  • The annual global barley production has been in the range of 130-140 million tonnes in the recent years. However, in 2008-09 it is estimated to have risen sharply to 158 million tonnes. The total average production of all coarse cereals in the recent years has been around 1000 million tonnes.
  • European Union, Russia, Ukraine, Canada, Australia, Turkey and USA are the major producers of barley accounting for around 75% of the total global production, with average production in these regions being around 55, 18, 10, 10, 6, 6, 4-5 million tonnes respectively in the recent years.
  • Following corn, barley is the second largest coarse cereal traded globally. The global trade in barley is reported to be around 17-18 million tonnes, with Ukraine (4-5 million tonnes), Russia (2-3 million tonnes), Australia (2-3) and EU-27 (2-3 million tonnes) being the major global exporters.
  • The major importing nations are Saudi Arabia (6-8 million tonnes), China (1-1.5 million tonnes) and Japan (1-1.5 million tonnes. While, Saudi Arabia imports barley mainly for feed, Japan and China import it for both feed and malt production
  • The global malt production is estimated to be around 22 million tonnes, more than 90% of which is produced from barley. It is estimated that around 94% of global malt production is used for making beer. The EU accounts for approximately 42% of the world's malt production.


Indian Scenario

  • Barley is cultivated as a rabi crop in India, with sowing being undertaken from October to December and harvesting from March to May. .
  • India's annual production of Barley has been steadily around 1.2-1.5 million tonnes in the recent years, with production in 2008-09 estimated to be around 1.54 million tonnes. The area under cultivation has also stabilized at around 0.7-0.8 lakh hectares, with a per hectare yield of around 1944 kg.
  • Latest state wise data available is that of 2005-06 from the Ministry of Agriculture. But it gives a fair picture of land use for the crop of barley. The major producers of Barley in the country are Rajasthan (40%), Uttar Pradesh (34%), Madhya Pradesh (8%), Haryana (6%) and Punjab (5%). Some cultivation is also undertaken in Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttaranchal.
  • In addition, to direct human consumption barley is utilized by the beer industry, food processing industry and feed manufacturing industry in India. Annual demand from beer and feed industry is estimated to be around 60,000 tonnes and 25,000 tonnes respectively.
  • However, rising demand for beer among India's urban young consumers is leading to increased demand for barley malt from Indian beer manufacturing units. The country's beer consumption in volume terms is projected to grow by almost 51% percent between 2006 and 2011. During 2001-06, it is estimated to have grown by around 45% to over 907 million litres.
  • India's barley production is projected to increase to around 2 million tonnes in a couple of years to meet the rising demand for barley malt.


Major Indian Trading Centres

The major markets are located in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The three largest markets are Kota, Ramganj Mandi and Baran in Rajasthan


Market Influencing Factors

  • Rising industrial demand is the main influencing factor in the Indian markets currently. While, demand from feed sector is more or less constant, demand from beer and food processing sectors are picking up.
  • The price of other coarse cereals influences the demand from the feed sector and in-turn influences barley prices.
  • Easier proximity to Middle-east countries has increased the export demand. The amount of exports undertaken influences prices significantly. It was the high export in 2007-8 and 2008-9 that resulted in the prices of Barley zooming to the high of almost 1300 in March 2008.
  • The reports of rising beer consumption in India is leading to major global barley / barley malt producers eyeing India as a probable buyer in the coming years. Currently, India does not import barley. Picking up of imports can alter the current Indian supply-demand dynamics and become a major price influencing factor.
  • The Government announces Minimum Support Price (MSP) for barley. However, Government procurement has been rarely undertaken, as there is no surplus production in the country.