G. K. Nair

Kochi, June 8

THE Director General Foreign Trade (DGFT) has lifted the ban on import of black pepper (light berries) under advance licence scheme by the oleoresin industry, which has been facing serious raw material shortage following its imposition.

The DGFT has lifted the ban through a public notice (No. 17 (RE-05)/2004-2009) on Tuesday.

Welcoming DGFT's decision to allow import of black pepper under advance licence, Mr Thomas Philip, President, All India Spices Exporters Forum (AISEF) said: "It is a well thought out move as black pepper is an essential ingredient for the manufacture of oleoresin. At least 95 per cent of the world production is done in India."

"The industry had been put to great difficulties by the ban on advance licence imports of pepper, and was on the verge of closing down for lack of raw material," he said.

The AISEF now looks forward to consideration and timely action by the government on other issues that had been raised by it recently, he added.

Imports of black pepper in 2004-05 stood at 17,725 tonne valued at Rs 116.04 crore as against 14,334 tonne worth Rs 99.23 crore the previous year. Around 60 per cent of the imports were made by the oleoresin industry.

The Union Government, under pressure from various corners, including traders and farmers, who have been alleging that the imports are responsible for the fall in domestic pepper prices, imposed a blanket ban on import of black pepper.

But the oleoresin industry, which mainly depends on imported black pepper (light berries) for extraction, turned out to be the worst hit as black pepper of this specification is not indigenously available in sufficient volume, industry sources claimed.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 9, 2005)
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