Pepper farming community is keeping their fingers crossed over the drop in prices by around ₹8 per kg in the last fortnight in the terminal market.

Trade sources attributed the price fall to the rising imports coupled with the availability of black pepper stocked in warehouses. The domestic prices are hovering at ₹480 for ungarbled varieties and ₹500 for garbled in Kochi terminal market and the offered quantities was to the tune of 32 tonnes on Thursday.  

It is pointed out that pepper stocked in warehouses in and around Ernakulam district some 10 years back as a part of futures trading is now coming to the domestic market. There are allegations that some of these stocks have weevil infestations. Since buyers are reluctant to take it, the commodity is available at discounted rates, said Kishore Shamji, President of Indian Pepper and Spices Traders Association. There are reports that around 8000 tonnes that received FSSAI clearance are being stocked in warehouses and owners are releasing it part by part.

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Shamji said that imports from Sri Lanka are on the higher side with over-invoiced prices. The commencement of the harvest season in the island nation has facilitated more arrivals to the domestic market here. The total imports during September alone were 2882 tonnes.

Shamji wondered why the authorities are not taking action against rising pepper shipments from Sri Lanka at a time when the Customs had started monitoring unbridled imports of desiccated coconut powder from the island nation in view of the complaint raised by the domestic industry.

The upcountry market is witnessing a subdued demand for pepper after the festival season. At the same time, green pepper (immature) is generating some demand at ₹130 per kg, which is mainly used for making pickles. However, there are apprehensions that pepper production this year is likely to be lower by about 20 per cent due to the mixed climatic conditions. However, the maturing of pepper is getting faster this year compared to the last two seasons due to favourable weather than the wet season two years back due to rainy days , he said.