Agri Business

Festival demand boosts nutmeg prices

V.Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on October 21, 2021

FILE PHOTO: A farm worker displaying harvested nutmeg at a farm near Meenakshipuram in Palakkad   -  Businessline

Climate change and the two consecutive floods in Kerala impacted nutmeg production, says an industry player

Festival demand ahead of Diwali in major upcountry markets has pushed up nutmeg prices to between ₹600 and ₹650 per kg. However, production in Kerala has dropped due to unprecedented rains, while various other issues have prompted farmers to expect more on the price front.

Given the rising demand from major consuming centres, they are now anticipating at least ₹15-25 per kg rise before Diwali. Nutmeg is a main ingredient in spices, confectionery, and perfuming industry, besides for its medicinal values.

Anand Kishore, President, Indian Pepper and Spice Trade Association (IPSTA) said that the fag end of the season has led to lower arrivals of the crop in the market, but there are some stocks available with farmers both in the primary markets and consuming centres.

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Nutmeg production with shell and mace (red membrane) put together is 10,000 tonnes. Out of which, 7,500 tonnes is without shell nutmeg and 10 per cent is mace with 750 tonnes. “The balance is the empty shell weight. Of this, 3,500 tonnes go for domestic consumption and it is mainly used for the pharma industry,” he said.

Major impacts

PD Zachariah, President, All Kerala Nutmeg Growers Association highlighted the issues connected with climate change and the two consecutive floods in Kerala that had its impact on nutmeg production, which is mainly confined to Ernakulam district. Normally, a lower crop would fetch more prices to farmers. But this has not materialised due to unknown reasons.

The sector was reeling under a host of issues including Covid related market conditions, non-availability of trains for transportation to North Indian destinations, unnecessary checking of consignments on GST related issues.

“The labour shortage also hit production especially in the monsoon, considered as the peak harvest time for Indian nutmeg,” he said, adding that farmers are expecting 30 per cent drop in output this year compared to last year. The price of mace has also come down to ₹1,600-1,700 from the last year level of ₹1,950.

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Sabu Joseph, exporter from Ann Impex House of Spices pointed out that the export market was down, witnessing a 30 per cent drop due to Covid related issues and the resultant financial crisis in many overseas destinations. Gulf countries are the major export market for Indian nutmeg which was re-exported from there to many countries including Africa.

However, the improvement in Covid situation abroad is expected to revive exports. But he is concerned about the unprecedented rains in Kerala which is likely to impact the flowering and have a further hit on production next year.

Published on October 21, 2021

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