Pepper output to drop in 2021 on unsupportive weather

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on January 05, 2021

Pepper crop in 2021 is likely to be lower, as the erratic climate with strong winds and heavy rains last year in the growing regions of Idukki, Wayanad, Coorg and some parts in Karnataka, is likely to upset the production.

The new harvest season is round the corner, however, many farmers are postponing the harvest because of the present unfavourable climate with cloudy skies and absence of sunshine. They are plucking only immature pepper spikes which are only suitable for pickles.

Lower price realisation

Pepper production in 2020 was at 65,000-70,000 tonnes compared to 50,000-55,000 tonnes in 2019. The sector is expecting a lower crop in 2021 as several vines have been damaged by the erratic weather, while the new vines may bear fruit only after two years.

Kishore Shamji, Co-ordinator, Indian Pepper and Spice Traders Growers Planters Consortium, Kerala Chapter, said the average price realisation in 2020 was down by ₹20 per kg at ₹315 for ungarbled and ₹335 for garbled varieties from a year ago.

According to Shamji, higher cost of production, lower price realisation and cheap imports have forced farmers to shift to cardamom crop and there is a need to produce more pepper by increasing the productivity. The initiatives of agriculture universities, research institutes to improve pepper production so far have not been visible at the ground level.

Rajiv Palicha, president of All India Spices Exporters Forum, said that the pepper production would be more or less like that of last year as they are anticipating a good crop with good berry setting in some parts of Karnataka. The shortfall in Kerala production can be made up from the excess in Karnataka region.

Steady demand

Palicha says that Indian pepper has got a steady demand in the export market. However, the announcement of the new scheme to replace MEIS needs more clarity especially in providing the percentage of incentives to the spices sector.

Industry sources pointed out that India consumes nearly 60,000 tonnes of the spice. The immunity boosting properties of pepper and revival of hospitality industry have increased the demand in the domestic market.

Published on January 05, 2021

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