Cardamom exporters looking to tap Gulf markets

Sajeev Kumar | | Updated on: Feb 26, 2020

The subdued demand for Indian cardamom in the just concluded Gulf Food Expo has not deterred exporters from trying to tap the burgeoning Gulf markets. They are pinning hopes on the ensuing Ramadan festival season in April, which they expect to perk up demand.

However, the higher price of Indian cardamom over the Guatemalan varieties is causing concern among exporters. Though the price of export grade Indian cardamom has started receding from $58-$60 to $50-52 per kg, the Guatemalan crop is available in the range of $38-42, said Dhanavanthan Murugesan, Mercariex Worldwide, a cardamom exporting firm based in Bodinayakanur.

He pointed out that the export price in the last 10 days has remained stable and importers are waiting for a further decline in domestic price. The Indian commodity can take advantage of the anticipated shortfall of Guatemalan cardamom in the September 2020 harvest.

Indian cardamom is the most preferred variety in the Gulf markets and the active overseas markets are Dubai, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Bahrain, Turkey, Canada and some European countries. However, the higher prices due to lower domestic production have given a competitive advantage to the Guatemalan crop. Many Gulf importers prefer Indian cardamom because of its quality, Murugesan said.

Saudi Arabia is a major buyer of Indian cardamom, but restrictions over pesticide residues have impacted export to that country in the last two years.

S.B.Prabhakar, a leading planter in Kerala’s Idukki district, said the Guatemalan crop shortfall is around 40 per cent this season due to drought. Moreover, the prices have doubled there and it will remain firm to bullish in the short term.

According to traders, only 10 per cent of the total production is exported now as against 15-20 per cent a few years ago. In value terms, cardamom exports have halved to ₹500 crore this year from ₹1,000 crore last year.

However, traders expressed the hope that the control on pesticides residues in several plantations would help achieve a good crop in the coming season. Farmers are now adopting better agricultural practices.

Ajith BK, Secretary, Association of Planters of Kerala, said large growers have already taken precautions on the usage of pesticides. Prices in the domestic market have been showing a declining trend for the last two months.

Published on February 26, 2020
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