Commodities

Lockdown takes a toll on cardamom; shipments to Gulf countries in limbo

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on April 16, 2020 Published on April 16, 2020

Hazy horizon Exporters feel that even if the market opens up by August-September, there will be severe restrictions   -  Getty Images/iStockphoto

Growers saddled with unsold stocks as Ramadan export potential goes awry

The Covid-19 pandemic has cast a shadow over India’s cardamom export prospects, particularly to Gulf countries during the holy Ramadan month, which begins on April 21 and runs up to May 20.

Exporters say Indian cardamom -- especially the 7 to 8 mm capsules -- was dominating in the Gulf markets because of its quality and price competitiveness vis-a-vis the Guatemalan variety. With the Gulf markets in the grip of the pandemic, cardamom exports from India have come to a standstill.

However, a Kochi-based exporter said his company is pinning hopes on the revival of exports to Saudi Arabia, which was suspended following issues connected with pesticide residue levels. The kingdom is reported to have taken positive steps in modifying the MRL levels, as Indian cardamom is a major ingredient in qahwa, a traditional coffee drink of the region.

Missed chance

It may be recalled that the issues connected with pesticide residue limits imposed by Saudi had impacted the prospects of Indian cardamom. Exports of the spice in 2019-20 was around 500 tonnes valued at ₹150 crore compared to 2,000 tonnes in the previous year.

M Dhanavanthan, an exporter based in Bodinayakanur in Tamil Nadu, told BusinessLine that exporters have missed a business opportunity in the Ramadan period and the situation has made it even more difficult to clear the stocks. Most of the stocks are lying with farmers and traders. Only if the stocks are cleared, planters can invest in new crop, for which the first picking season begins by the end of May or early June.

Though the export market is likely to open up by August-September, there could be more stringent measures in the post-Covid days, he added.

The auctioneers in Vandanmedu said the stoppage of auctions since mid-March has caused accumulation of stock, leading to cash crunch to growers. It is estimated that around 800 tonnes of cardamom valued at ₹200 crore could not be disposed of due to the suspension of auctions.

Bodinayakanur in Theni district, which is the primary trade centre for cardamom, is also a hotspot for the coronavirus. This has hindered the movement of cargo and traders. With the auctions suspended, there is confusion over pricing among farmers.

Published on April 16, 2020

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.