Farmers want PM’s ‘vocal for local’ call to echo strongly in pepper imports

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on May 21, 2020

The pepper farming community is looking at the Prime Minister’s announcement of “vocal for local” in letter and spirit, especially with regard to pepper imports.

Kishore Shamji of Kishor Spices said the message should be implemented without being diluted, unlike the previous Make in India programme, under which pepper was imported and re-exported in various forms, flouting the restrictions imposed by DGFT for 6 per cent minimum oil content.

This needs immediate attention from the authorities to help Indian domestic pepper farmers, he said. According to him, the domestic market is expecting to pick up some demand on account of the start of Sri Lankan harvest season and it is feared that those who managed to obtain duty-free import licence last year under Indo-Sri Lankan FTA could try to import larger quantities by flouting all norms.

This would possibly hit the domestic prices.

Spot prices steady

Meanwhile, the Kochi market remained steady at ₹305 for ungarbled on the arrival of 17 tonnes, which was mainly from Idukki high ranges. Shamji said buying interest from end-users appeared to have picked up, mainly in UP market.

However, masala manufacturers based in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh is still under the grip of lockdown as their production facilities or offices are in red zones.

Therefore, many suppliers are yet to receive funds for their raw material supply, not only for pepper but for cumins, turmeric, coriander, and chilli.

The harvest of pepper in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is in progress, which was unduly delayed due to the lockdown and want of adequate labour force, as the exodus of migrant labourers caused severe challenges for farmers in these two States, Shamji said.

Published on May 21, 2020

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