Cardamom growers left out of price boom

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on May 08, 2019 Published on May 08, 2019

Lacunae in auction system benefiting only middlemen

Small and marginal cardamom farmers have been mere spectators of the price rally of the crop, which has touched the all-time high of ₹3,273/kg.

They got no financial support from the State government or the Centre during the floods and now, the high prices are no comfort to them either.

Sadasiva Subramaniam, Secretary, Kerala Cardamom Growers Association, attributed the present price boom to re-pooling of the already sold crop in the auctions and pointed out that such a record price is not benefiting farmers at a time when there is hardly any production in growing areas.

“Now, this year’s season is over and there is an acute shortage in the market due to drying up of plantations,” he told BusinessLine.

It is due to re-pooling that such large quantities are coming to auctions. Without re-pooling, cardamom prices would have crossed the ₹2,000 level during the September-October period itself, when farmers had sufficient stocks to sell. Right now, growers do not have a substantial quantity and what is available in the auction is re-pooled quantities brought by traders, he said.

At the Puttady auction conducted by Sugandhagiri Spices Promotions & Traders, the average price realisesd was ₹2,633.84/kg and the maximum price received for a particular lot was ₹3,273/kg.

Of the quantity of 29,092 kg on arrival, 28,641 kg was sold. In the second auction conducted by Spice More Trading Company, the maximum price realised was ₹3,017/kg and the average price at ₹2,616/kg.

The majority of farmers, due to their poor financial capacity, were forced to clear their stocks in the last quarter and during the time the prices were far lower than the current level, he said.

Output fall expected

Asked about the prospects of the next season, Subramaniam said: “If the growing regions have received sufficient summer rains, the season could have expected by June-July. But the paucity of rains is likely to delay the flowering and the crop can be expected only by September. The production will also be lower in the coming season from last year’s figure of around 25,000 tonnes”, he said.

Highly placed sources in the sector pointed out that the loopholes available in the auction system like unregulated re-pooling are exploited by the middlemen for reaping high profits. However, the proceeds of these high prices are available neither to the farmer nor to the government through taxes. The farmers have been appealing to the government for regulating the re-pooling system so that price fluctuations in the market can be controlled to a great extent.

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Published on May 08, 2019
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