Tight supply, drop in output lift cardamom

V Sajeev Kumar Puttady (Idukki) | Updated on March 27, 2019 Published on March 27, 2019

Cardamom auctions in progress at the Puttady auction centre in Idukki on Tuesday. As it is the fag end of the season, the quantity on offer in the auction was just 20 tonnes against a peak of 180 tonnes. Short supply and lower output have impacted arrivals V Sajeev Kumar   -  V Sajeev Kumar

Cardamom seems to be regaining its aroma with average prices rising to ₹1,530/kg at the auctions conducted at Puttady in Idukki district on Tuesday.

SV Subramaniam, president of the Cardamom Planters Association, one of the auctioneers in Puttady, cited short supply and lower production as the reasons for the northward movement of prices. “Low arrivals at 20,000 kg (20 tonnes) at the auctions lifted the prices and the trend is likely to continue in the next couple of weeks in the wake of drought-like conditions in the entire Idukki region, the main cardamom growing centre”, he told BusinessLine.

The absence of adequate summer showers in many of the cardamom plantations has affected the crop, leading to a 40 per cent drop in production. Production was around 25,000 tonnes last year, he said.

The rain deficit in the Vandanmedu and Valpara regions has made it difficult to make any predictions on the ensuing crop season in the June-July period. Normally, this area should have received at least two or three good summer showers by this time. But this has not happened, affecting proper irrigation in cardamom plantations. One rain per month is ideal for cardamom plantations, he added.

According to Sadasiva Subramaniam, Secretary, Kerala Cardamom Growers Association, the drying of the base level of the plant has resulted in poor panickle formation and resultant flowering, which will have an impact on production in the coming season. Normally flowering starts with the summer rains. The rain deficit has also affected replanting and rejuvenation of plantations that have been hit by last year’s floods, he said.

Farmers have started using shade nets to protect plants from scorching heat. However, this is not practical because cardamom plantations are on slopes and spreading of shade nets in vast areas is not feasible aside from being a costly affair. Small and medium farmers cannot afford to pay for green nets as they cost as much as ₹11,000 for 100 metres, he said.

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Published on March 27, 2019
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