The festival demand seem to be picking up in the pepper market, as is evident from the presence of more buyers for physical procurement, which in turn pushed up prices as well.

The prices in Kochi has registered a ₹1 hike touching ₹304 per kg on Friday. According to traders, end-users are gearing up to meet the demand as Onam, Raksha Bandhan, Vinayaka Chathurthy etc are on the anvil throguhout the country. The increase in take-away business and dining at home has also added up more demand for pepper besides a medicinal use for the commodity.

Kishore Shamji of Kishor Spices urged farmers to act tactfully and take advantage of the emerging situation without letting up illegal imports to creep in and snatch away this benefit by holding back the stock in anticipation of a further rise in prices.

He said that processors are finding difficulties in marketing pepper dust husk and pinheads as low quality stuff is in demand from consuming markets of small and medium masala makers, which is presently being catered by de-oiled pepper and pushk (waste of pepper oil extracted). This has resulted in a high processing cost and widening parity of garbled-ungarbled varieties.

Additionally, moisture during the monsoon of June-July makes it more difficult. The farmers who have small quantieis should take adequate measures for storing the produce. The dealers in the primary market have to take care of their stock ensuring protection from insects, cockroaches, rats etc. Otherwise, farmers earnings will be hit, he said.