Agri Business

An aromatic year seen ahead for spice growers

GK Nair Kochi | Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on January 04, 2018

The year 2018 is likely to bring some cheer to spices growers though it depends on the calls of the government. Last year, legal and illegal imports dragged prices of commodities such as pepper and arecanut. Curbing of such activities might help save the domestic trade this year.

Pepper

There is not much change ahead for pepper growers in 2018. A section of MNC operators has projected the output at 80,000 tonnes this year against the official projection of 64,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, growers in Karnataka and Kerala have put their estimates at around 58,000 tonnes. The domestic demand is estimated at 60,000 tonnes and that of export at 21,000 tonnes. The global availability in 2018 is projected at 5,48,896 tonnes (5,47,183 tonnes), according to the International Pepper Community statistics.

Increased availability in other origins at lower rates coupled with a likely rise in Indian output might keep prices unchanged. The minimum import price fixed by the Commerce Ministry will have to be enforced strictly to curb pepper movements from Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

Small cardamom

Though prices dropped from last year’s levels, the average price during April-December 2017 hovered at around ₹950 a kg, and remained remunerative. Depleted inventories in upcountry markets coupled with a rise in demand can be attributed to prevailing moderate prices, said PC Punnoose, General Manager, CPMC.

The demand is expected to outstrip supply and hence the prices are likely to stay at higher levels in 2018 also. Total production during the current season (August 1-July 31) is estimated between 20,000 and 25,000 tonnes.

Cloves

Slack demand due to withdrawal of buyers following demonetisation and GST coupled with increased availability took the flavour off cloves last year with prices around ₹500/kg against ₹750 the previous year.

But the situation is expected to change this year as the next crop in the country would be only 20-30 per cent of the 2017 crop due to the erratic South-West monsoon, Muthu Subramanian, Secretary, Maramalai Planters Association-Kanyakumari district, told BusinessLine.

The 2018 crop in major supplying countries is reportedly small, while the domestic production is expected to be half last year’s.

With an annual demand of around 20,000 tonnes, the country remains a net importer. Imports in 2016-17 stood at 17,095 tonnes valued at ₹869.70 crore, according Dhirish Momaya, a Bengaluru-based dealer.

With these factors at play, he said the prices are expected to move up further.

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Published on January 04, 2018
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