Rains revive cardamom hopes

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on October 30, 2019

Better crop expected to be harvested over the coming months and next year

Copious rains in October seem to have helped cardamom plantations recover from drought, bringing hopes for farmers for a better crop in the remaining six months of the current fiscal year.

The plantations, in the growing regions of Idukki, Vandanmedu etc, are witnessing good vegetative growth, which will help enhance productivity. Rains are likely to be good in November as well and could extend into early December. “We can expect a good early crop next season if the spring showers are good in February, March and April,” S.B. Prabhakar, a cardamom planter, from Pambadampara Estates, told BusinessLine.

“We can also look forward to an increase in export demand if prices hover around the current levels of ₹2,300 per kg,” he said.

However, the price movement will largely be dictated by auction arrivals. If arrivals fall sharply in December, the sector can anticipate a further surge in prices and they could again pierce the ₹3,000 mark, he added.

According to PC Punnoose, CEO, Kerala Cardamom Processing and Marketing Company, production in the current fiscal from April to September was down by 50 per cent compared to 12,000 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal. He attributed the decline in production in the first six months to a prolonged drought, lack of settings etc.

It may be recalled that trade analysts had also calculated a decline in crop in 2019-20 (July-June), the lowest in two decades.

“Thanks to good rains, we expect a better crop in the remaining six months,” Punnoose said, adding that rains in August enabled the start of picking operations and farmers have already completed two rounds. A single round is usually 60-70 days.

Asked about the possibility of a surge in prices, he said it all depends on the post-Diwali sale, where business is expected to pick up depending on upcountry buying. However, he underlined that there are certain years where prices came down after Diwali. “It basically depends on the level of inventory in the consumer market,” he said.

Good yield seen in FY21

Sadasiva Subramaniam, secretary, Kerala Cardamom Growers Association, was of the view that the current rains are not beneficial for the crop but for plants only and the sector could expect a good yield in FY 20-21, provided all other parameters such as adequate summer rains, minimum temperature etc are in favour.

Sources in the sector pointed out that the international scenario also seems brighter for Indian cardamom in view of the surging demand. This was due to the declining demand for the Guatemala variety as well as sustained efforts of Indian growers to improve the quality.

According to official data, the current season began on August 1 and the government has kept the output estimate unchanged at 22000 tonnes.

The second advance estimate of the farm ministry sees total cardamom output at 22,000 tonnes against 28,000 tonnes in the previous year.

Adverse weather in the major growing regions is turning out to be a weighty factor influencing the price.

Published on October 30, 2019

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