G.K. Nair

Kochi, Jan. 5

SPICES Board has extended the airfreight assistance to exporters for exporting cardamom till January 31, 2005.

The decision has been taken following demand from exporters, who claim that there are sufficient enquiries from overseas and that they would be able to export around 75 tonnes this month if they are given the support till January 31.

Ever since the board announced the airfreight assistance on October 16 last, the total export buying is pegged around 300 tonnes.

This, coupled with the domestic pull, had pushed up the prices of the commodity.

Apart from boosting exports, this has actually acted as a market intervention exercise, Mr S. Kannan, Director (Marketing) of the board, told Business Line. He said there was potential for more exports in January, as the supply of cardamom from Guatemala, the major producer, is expected to commence by mid-February.

"The current airfreight assistance at Rs 45 a kg would make the Indian produce competitive in the overseas market."

Initially, it was Rs 30 a kg from October 16 to November 30 and was raised to the current level from December 1, he added.

Given this trend, exports during the current fiscal are expected to be around 1,000 tonnes against the target of 750 tonnes, he said.

The total arrivals during the current season up to January 2 stood at 3,088 tonnes, of which 2,896 tonnes were sold.

Last season, out of total arrivals of 3,029 tonnes, 2,776 tonnes were sold. The weighted average price was 302.25 a kg against Rs 381.99 last season.

Prices of graded varieties were AGEB - Rs 400-410, AGB - Rs 330-340, AGS - Rs 315-325 and AGS 1 - Rs 290-300. Bulk sales are currently going on at Rs 350 a kg.

Upcountry buyers who seem to have exhausted their inventories have been active in the market after the Diwali. There has been a shrink in the arrivals of late as the harvesting has reached its final rounds, Mr Kannan said.

Active buying by exporters and the weak supply position also appear to have compelled the domestic players to buy now. The delay in the arrival of cardamom from Guatemala has also contributed positively, he added.

The production is estimated to be around 11,000 tonnes this season.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 6, 2005)
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