The ministry that has taken the greatest enthusiasm in disseminating data via the data.gov.in data portal launched by the government of India is the Ministry of Agriculture, which has so far released over 1700 different data sets. Once you download the data you will find that the data is extremely extensive.
I happened to download data on wheat prices in the last four years and the level of detail is amazing. For each agricultural market in the country, for each kind of wheat, it gives the minimum, maximum and modal traded price of wheat for every day. Over the four years, the data set has over 6 lakh data points.
I wanted to look at how the wholesale price of wheat has varied in the last four years. Rather than get into the nittygritties of different varieties of wheat and different markets, I simply took the median traded price of wheat for each day and plotted them. While there might be different varieties whose prices vary from each other, the median is enough to give us a level.
Notice the seasonality in the price of wheat. Given that wheat is primarily a Rabi crop, you would expect the new harvest to hit the markets sometime around March-April (Baisakhi is the primary Rabi harvest festival). However, if you look at the price trends, you notice that the price peaks each year around December, and the price drops starting in January. It continues to drop until March-April after which it starts rising again.
The data shows that there was a steep increase in the price of wheat towards the end of 2009. 2011, however, didn’t behave similarly, with a sharp drop in the price of wheat towards the end of the year. The latter, however, has been more than compensated by the sharp increase in the price of wheat through the course of 2012.
There is a lot more you can play around with the data. You can expect some more agricultural analysis on this blog in the coming weeks or months.