G.K. Nair

Kochi, April 28

CARDAMOM prices remained steady at lower levels despite thin arrivals on lack of buying support at the auctions held in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Trading sources in two main trading centres, Bodinayakannur in Tamil Nadu and Kumily in Kerala, told Business Line on Thursday that increased availability of cheap cardamom imported from Guatemala, on the one hand, and the anticipation of an early crop next season, on the other hand, had weakened the demand.

"The up-country buyers are only buying what is needed to meet their immediate demand. They do not show any interest to buy and stock," they said.

Though official statistics have been showing the imports of cardamom from Guatemala at around 230 tonnes, the actual figure would be much higher as the commodity had entered the Indian markets through illegal routes, market sources alleged.

During the current season up to April 27, 4,172 tonnes of cardamom were sold from the total arrival of 4,499 tonnes. During the corresponding period last season, the sales stood at 4,533 tonnes from the total arrival of 4,907 tonnes. The weighted average price was Rs 368.27 a kg as against Rs 304.42 a kg in the (2004-05) season. The decline in arrivals and sales through auctions in the current season is because major growers are holding back their produce due to prevailing low prices, they claimed.

The average price of graded varieties as on April 23 were AGEB Rs 402- Rs 410, AGB Rs 320 - Rs 330, AGS Rs 285 - Rs 295 and AGS 1 Rs 270 - Rs 280 a kg.

Good coloured 7.5mm capsules were sold at Rs 400 a kg in the STCL auction on Thursday at Bodinayakannur. Inferior varieties fetched about Rs 260-280 while coloured running bulk were sold at Rs 280-320 a kg, sources said.

In the CPMC auction at Kumily on Wednesday, 18 tonnes of cardamom were sold from the total arrival of 22 tonnes. The highest price offered was Rs 399 a kg for 7.5 mm variety. Bulk fetched Rs 265 - Rs 275 a kg.

Arrivals at the auction in Nedumkandam on Tuesday stood at 10 tonnes where the individual average price was a meagre Rs 218.69 a kg. Much of the arrivals at the auctions were of inferior quality, trading sources pointed out.

The timely and protracted pre-monsoon showers this year in the growing areas would result in an early crop reducing the gap between the end of the previous crop and the harvesting of the next crop, they added.

According to auctioneering sources, auctions would be suspended from May end to mid-July by some of the auctioning companies for settling their accounts.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 29, 2005)
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