Copious rains in the growing regions have rekindled cardamom farmers’ hopes for a good crop in the upcoming season that is expected to start by the third week of July.

Summer showers, so far, have been near normal in several production regions and much will depend on the pre-monsoon showers in April-May. According to C. Sadasivasubramaniam, Secretary, Kerala Cardamom Growers Union, farmers could not realise the benefit of the higher price of the crop recently as they had been selling carryover stocks with them to meet their increasing financial needs. The next season will all depend on rain. He said the sector had received good summer showers last year but the absence of monsoon rains in June had hit the crop badly, leading to lower production.

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S.B. Prabhakar, a cardamom farmer in Idukki, said prices have corrected to an average of ₹1,350 down from ₹1,650 in February. However, the rates are expected to hover in the range of ₹1,350-1,500 till the main crop hits the market in August. The rise in price has not benefited most growers as it comes at a time when growers have little carryover stocks with them. The current crop has virtually come to an end barring sporadic picking in a few plantations.

Bumper Guatemala crop

At the same time, a bumper cardamom crop of around 55,000 tonnes in Guatemala this season has hit India’s export prospects. There are also reports on the availability of Guatemala cardamom in North Indian markets, which made a dent in domestic demand, he said.

It is estimated that around 5,000 tonnes will not be harvested in Guatemala this season, as prices have dropped sharply as picking costs are far higher. The quantity of the crop is also reported to be inferior this season, he said.

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P. C. Punnoose, CEO of CPMC, a leading auctioneer, said plantations, in general, are just normal this year, despite dropping prices. There were no aggressive agricultural practices or initiatives from the farmers’ side. There was a production drop of 25 to 30 per cent compared to last year and the dropping prices put farmers into trouble. The auction arrivals were also down by 10 per cent from August 2022 to February this year.

However, summer showers have given them hope for a good crop in the next season, and cardamom farming would be viable only when farmers fetch a price tag above ₹1,500 level in view of the rise in production cost, he said.

The climate was not conducive during the last two years, and the next season is expected to be a break-even, he said, adding that less inventory across the trade, including farmers, stockists, etc., due to the liquidation of all of the carryover stock is a positive factor for the sales to boost.