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Chilli exports may turn hot

G.K. Nair

Kochi , March 25

EXPORT of chilli, which has shown a decline during the current fiscal till February, is expected to pick up this month , according to Mr Ramkumar Menon, Chairman, All India Spices Exporters Forum (AISEF).

The chilli crop is very good and "we are able to offer it at a competitive price," he told Business Line on Tuesday. On the other hand, there has been failure of chilli crop in China and it would prop up shipments in the coming months, he said. If the exporters were able to process and export, "we could easily achieve the target of 76,000 tonnes before March-end." The country has an estimated over 72,000 hectares under chilli with a total production of about 2.5 lakh tonnes.

However, there had been a failure of turmeric crop as the growing area in Tamil Nadu's Erode region did not receive enough rains, he pointed out. Overall turmeric production in the country, therefore, was estimated to be down by 20 per cent, he said.

The current dry spell in the pepper growing areas in Kerala could have an adverse impact on the crop next year. However, it would also depend on the rains in the coming months.

The last crop of this season was reported to have been affected by the dry spell. All the other major crops had no problem, he said.

As the season for the major spices crop is from January to March, maximum quantity of exports take place during this period and the following months of April and May. Hence, the export figures have shown a decline during April - February 2003-04. The real picture would emerge only after March 31, he said.

Meanwhile, Mr C.J. Jose, Chairman, Spices Board, expressed the hope that the exports during the current fiscal would reach last year's level as the figures made available so far were just estimates. The target set for 2003-04 is 2,51,030 tonnes valued at Rs 1,900 crore, he said.

The exports during April 2003 - February 2004 stood at 2,02,515 tonnes valued at Rs 1,636. 24 crore, as against 2,42,961 tonnes worth Rs 1,915.04 crore in the same period last financial year.

The items which had declined were pepper, by 24 per cent in quantity and 20 per cent in value, cardamom large 41 and 42 per cent in quantity and value respectively. While the drop in chilli in terms of quantity was 17 per cent, in terms of value it was only 3 per cent, thanks to the high unit value realisation. Similarly, ginger witnessed a fall of 52 per cent in quantity where as in terms of value it was only 12 per cent. The decline in quantity is attributed to the prevailing high prices.

Cumin, fenugreek and other seeds also fell sharply. However, in ginger there had been a 145 and 119 per cent increase in quantity and value respectively. Vanilla has also shown an increase of 31 per cent in quantity and 92 per cent in value.

But the value-added items such as curry powder, mint products and spice oils and oleoresins also experienced decline both in quantity and value during April 2003 - February 2004. Export of these items is also expected to improve in the March 2004, industry sources claimed.

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