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Black pepper prices lowest in a decade

When the harvest of the new crop begins in December, the prices are expected to fall further.

, ET Bureau|
Oct 29, 2019, 07.57 AM IST
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As a result, there has been rising import of pepper to India flouting the minimum import price fixed by India atRs 500 per kg.

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CARDAMOM
Kochi: Oversupply in the global market and rising imports have pushed Indian black pepper prices to the lowest in a decade.

The prices have dipped below Rs 300 per kg. “When we take the produce to the market, we get only Rs 280 per kg,’’ said a grower, Rajendra Prasad, based in Idukki in Kerala.

When the harvest of the new crop begins in December, the prices are expected to fall further. “We will not be surprised if the prices touch Rs 200 next year,’’ Prasad said. Burdened by high wages and declining productivity, the growers have already started moving to other crops that give better prices like cardamom.

Prasad has started growing cardamom in parts of his 10-acre pepper plantation. “Against 5 kg earlier, I am getting 2 kg from a pepper vine. Though cardamom productivity will be 70 per cent of that from regular growing areas in Idukki, it offers better remuneration.’’ Cardamom is priced around Rs 2,500 per kg.
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The black pepper production in India has been stagnating between 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes in the past few years with Karnataka being the top producer followed by Kerala. Last year, heavy rains and flood led to poor output in Kerala and parts of Karnataka.

Even at this level, Indian pepper has the highest price in the global market. Pepper from major producer like Vietnam, Brazil and Indonesia are priced in the range of Rs 150 to 160 per kg while Malaysian pepper is available for around Rs 250 per kg .

As a result, there has been rising import of pepper to India flouting the minimum import price fixed by India atRs 500 per kg.

“Lots of pepper are reaching Indian shores via Mumbai, Chennai and Tuticorin ports. It is easy for the sellers to make an invoice of Rs 500 per kg to convince the Customs here,” said Jojan Malayil, CEO of Bafna Enterprises, an exporter.

This is happening despite an import duty of over 50 per cent for Asean countries. “Till October, Vietnam has exported 2.48 lakh tonnes of which includes pepper imported by the country from Indonesia and Brazil,” Malayil said.

The International Pepper Community, the inter-governmental organisation of pepper producing countries, is likely to come out with global production estimate for 2020 next month. “It will be a surplus with good carryover from the current year which will keep the prices subdued,” said Rajiv Palicha, chairman, All India Spices Exporters Forum.

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