Agri Business

Exports lend aroma to cardamom, while Covid-19 saps domestic market

V.Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on July 14, 2020 Published on July 14, 2020

Rising trend in exports has turned out to be a saviour for cardamom, amid a waning Covid-hit domestic market.

The revival of exports to Saudi Arabia from May, after resolving the pesticide residue issues, has enabled the sector to maintain a sales momentum, after cardamom prices touched rock-bottom with an average of ₹1,069/kg when the lockdown was eased.

The rising trend in exports reflected in the auction prices which went up by ₹600, touching an average of ₹1,615 a kg, said auctioneers.

According to exporters, around 100 tonnes of cardamom valued at ₹25 crore have been shipped since May to Saudi — the single largest consumer of Indian cardamom. India shipped around 4,500 tonnes of the spice in the last three years.

However, some exporters, on condition of anonymity, told BusinessLine that shipments to Saudi have slowed down after June, following the revised Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) after prescribing an additional parameter (Dithiocarbamates) analysis (apart from the existing five parameters) for samples in cardamom shipments.

The Commerce Ministry has convened a meeting of India-Saudi Arabia Joint Working Group Meeting on July 15 to consider and share issues/challenges faced by exporters with respect to non-tariff barriers (NTB’s) from the Kingdom so that these issues can be taken up by the department during the inter-government meeting, they said.

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

 

Prices, production

SB Prabhakar, a planter of Pambadampara Estate in Idukki, said that there was a slow-moving cyclone by June-end in Guatemala resulting in a huge amount of rain in Coban — the main growing area in Northern Guatemala. Since the entire country is under lockdown, there could be a slowdown in exports from there. This would benefit India in the case of softening of prices.

The general perception is that there would be a better production in the ensuing harvest season by July end, said PC Punnoose of Kerala Cardamom Processing & Marketing Company. The contributing factors for a better crop are good vegetative growth, favourable climate, the absence of a prolonged summer, intermittent summer showers and above all, the extraordinary price factor that made farmers to upkeep the plantations.

Domestic market hit

However, the fluid situation of Covid has made the things worse, impacting the domestic consumption in major consuming centres of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Delhi and Chennai, leading to a negative consumer sentiment.

Sadasivasubramaniam, Kerala Cardamom Growers Association, voiced concern over the drop in monsoon rains in Idukki region by about 40-50 per cent in June and July, which would likely affect the next crop settings.

He also highlighted some other risk factors on the production side such as labour shortage due to the closure of the border with Theni, Tamil Nadu that impacted the labour movement affecting the timely operations in plantations.

On the next crop position, Prabhakar added that much will depend on the revival of monsoon and the quantity of rains received till August-end.

Also read: Spices Board mulls using e-NAM portal for cardamom sales

 

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Published on July 14, 2020
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