The import of black pepper has been estimated at 10,990 tonnes during April-August FY20 .

Of this, the share of import from Vietnam has been estimated at 6,657 tonnes. The share of Sri Lanka and Indonesia has been estimated at 2003 tonnes and 1034 tonnes, respectively.

In a written reply to the Members of Parliament – Shobha Karandlaje and Magunta Sreenivasulu Reddy – in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, gave the details of import for 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19 and for the first five months of 2019-20.

The country imported 20,265 tonnes of black pepper during 2016-17, and 29,650 tonnes in 2017-18. India’s import of black pepper stood at 24,950 tonnes in 2018-19 (provisional).

The minister said that some representations regarding smuggling of low priced black pepper from other origins to India, through Nepal and Bangladesh borders, were received. In this regard, the field formation of Customs and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence have been alerted and made vigilant at the point-of-entry in the port to detect and prevent entry of inferior quality pepper from other countries to India. Customs has also booked several cases of attempted smuggling of pepper in the recent past.

On the request of the Government, Sri Lankan authorities have introduced a new procedure to prevent issue of certificates of origin for third-country black pepper shipments destined to India. Sri Lankan authority has also provided access to Indian authorities to examine the scanned copies of certificates of origin issued for black pepper exports under ‘Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement’ and SAFTA, and temporarily suspended import of spices, including pepper, to Sri Lanka through the ‘Entreport Trade and Commercial Hub Operations’ to prevent these spices being re-shipped to India, he said.

To a query on if the Government is bound by ASEAN agreement to import pepper from member countries at cheaper rate, Goyal said import of pepper is allowed at an import duty of 51 per cent (with effect from January 1, 2019) under ASEAN, against the normal duty of 70 per cent for import from countries not covered under trade agreements.

Domestic Prices

He said the domestic price of black pepper has fallen in the last three years primarily due to decline in international prices owing to higher production and supply of pepper in the international market, and also due to increased import of pepper from other countries into India.

His statement gave the average domestic price of black pepper at ₹694.77 a kg in 2016-17, ₹473.73 a kg in 2017-18, and at ₹378.21 a kg in 2018-19 in Kochi.

Referring to the data of the International Pepper Community, he said the demand for black pepper in the domestic market has been increasing in the last three years. The domestic consumption stood at 55,000 tonnes in 2017, 56,000 tonnes in 2018 and 57,000 tonnes (estimate) in 2019, he said.

The production of black pepper in the country stood at 62,080 tonnes in 2016-17, 71,488 tonnes in 2017-18 and 62,425 tonnes in 2018-19, he added.