Agri Business

Cardamom losing aroma as Covid-19, price drop sap demand in upcountry markets

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on June 22, 2020 Published on June 22, 2020

Cardamom seems to be losing its aroma in these Covid-19 times, and dwindling prices have led to subdued demand across India’s major consuming markets.

Delhi is considered the main market for cardamom — from here, the capsules are distributed to Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, among other States. But the alarming pandemic situation has badly hit the sales of this spice. Gujarat, the single-largest consuming centre, and Vashi, in Mumbai, have also been affected by the deadly virus. Thus, the emerging situation across the upcountry markets has impacted the demand as well as the purchasing capacity of consumers, traders said.

From the level of ₹3,300 per kg before the lockdown in March, the average price in the auctions now has dropped to ₹1,150 per kg. The lower price realisation has led to panic selling in the market, where old stock or carryover stock of last year have been brought for trading. All these stocks ― probably harvested six months back and its pale yellow colour appearance ― have created the impression of old stock, traders said.

Industry sources pointed out that the first half is already over, and the demand scenario has been bleak. However, growers are expecting some rise in demand in the second half, when the wedding season and Diwali festivities kick off. However, the worsening situation of Covid-19 is playing spoilsport.

Muted export demand

Though exports to Saudi Arabia re-started in May after the ban was lifted, demand has been muted post Ramzan. Conditions in the Gulf markets are fluid state and the revival of demand depends on the flattening of the pandemic curve in these countries, V Unnikrishnan, Senior Vice President (Plantations), AVT, said. This year, the crop is expected to be good, thanks to sufficient summer showers and good climatic conditions in growing regions, he added.

According to C Sadasiva Subramaniam, Secretary, Kerala Cardamom Growers Union, travel restriction placed on small and medium growers from Theni in Tamil Nadu to their plantations in Idukki has become a matter of concern. Around 25,000 hectares of plantations in Idukki are owned by growers in Theni, who travel daily to Vandanmedu for farming.

However, the denial of permission to travel from Tamil Nadu to Kerala due to the spike in Covid-19 cases has put these plantations in a state of neglect for the last three months. Most of the fields are currently in a bad state in the absence of proper irrigation and pesticide spraying. Going forward, the denial of regular visits would lead to the removal of plants and replanting, which would be an additional burden, he said, adding that a drop in cardamom yield will affect the entire economic chain.

He requested the Chief Minister of Kerala to direct the Idukki district administration to cooperate with cardamom planters and issue regular and proper passes.

Published on June 22, 2020
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