Cloves soar on supply squeeze

G. K. Nair Kochi | Updated on November 15, 2017


Cloves prices have shot up in the Indian and international markets on severe shortage caused by crop damage in several producing countries.

Trade sources told Business Line that there were buyers for Colombo cloves at Rs 375 a kg. The prices in Colombo have risen to $7,500 a tonne from $6,200 a tonne and “it is on the rise as days pass by”. If the current trend persisted the price might cross $8,400 a tonne, they claimed.

Severe shortage in India is forcing buyers to cover from Colombo at the prevailing prices. The advantage for the Indian importers is the four per cent import duty, they said. The prices for other origins such as Zanzibar and Madagascar are at $7,000 a tonne and it will become costlier as the import duty is at 35 per cent, they said. Zanzibar, Madagascar and Comoros cloves prices would come to Rs 425 a kg at present, they said. The crop in Indonesia, the biggest grower of cloves in the world, has reportedly failed due to unfavourable weather.

The “cigar companies will need 25,000 tonnes, and there is not so much cloves available in any of the origins”, they said.

Indian production of cloves continued to remain negligible when compared with the demand and if the country were to become a net exporter of the commodity from its current status of a net importer, the State and Central governments and the Spices Board would have to provide special emphasis to promote its cultivation. The output continued to vacillate between 1,000 tonnes and 2,500 tonnes as against an annual demand of over 20,000 tonnes.

The current crop, harvesting of which is to commence in late January/February, is estimated at around 1,000- 1,250 tonnes because of the continuous rains in recent months, Mr Ramakrishna Sarma, Managing Director, Travancore Rubber and Tea Company Limited, a major grower of cloves in the country told Business Line.

The continuous rains punctuated by occasional sunshine helped healthy vegetative growth, but at the cost of yield, depriving the plants of flowering which is turn has reduced the output by around 50 per cent from the previous season's estimated 2,500 tonnes.

Non-remunerative prices for long in the past forced several growers to switch over to other crops. No motivating efforts have so far been made to bring them back. Even though the prices of other commodities have gone up significantly, cloves prices are oscillating between Rs 250-320 a kg because of import of poor quality material at low prices from other origins for a long time. “Therefore, the real value of Indian cloves has not gone up for over a decade,” he said.

As a result, growers have switched over to more remunerative other crops bringing down the area under cloves to around an estimated 2,200 ha.

Published on February 27, 2011

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