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The Kerala government’s decision to include cardamom in the food kits supplied through the public distribution system (PDS) in the Onam season has relieved the crisis-hit cardamom sector.

The government’s decision to include 20-gram packets in the food kits has boosted the market, which has been going through a tough phase since the last two years, with demand dwindling and prices declining, a cardamom trader in Vandanmedu in the Idukki district told BusinessLine.

“As many as 8,4 Million beneficiaries in the State would benefit from this government support. Authorities have procured around 170 tonnes of cardamom from the market,” he said.

“The government’s gesture, in a way, has helped retain cardamom prices above $13 per kg and, therefore, avoid a crash. The situation comes at a time when the sector has been hit by the monsoon, inflicting a considerable loss to farmers by way of crop damage,” C Sadasivasubramaniam, secretary, Kerala Cardamom Growers Union, said.

Referring to the inclusion of cardamom in the food kits for the festival season, GR Anil, State Food Minister, said the government had opened a new marketing avenue for farmers, thereby allowing consumers to get good quality capsules. This will be a boost to the sector, in the long run, he said.

Average price realisation

Amid a subdued demand from the upcountry markets, the average price realisation of cardamom in the auctions is hovering around $15.06 per kg. Traders pointed out that the market has been hit by a liquidity crisis during the Covid pandemic. It has slowed down buying in major consuming States of Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh etc.

PC Punnoose, CEO, CPMC, said that the start of the current season was not in favour of farmers due to climatic fluctuations, pest attack that led to dropping of capsules and non-availability of sufficient labour from Tamil Nadu due to lockdown restrictions. Many farmers face difficulties in maintaining the plantations to make them ready for the harvest, which is expected to start by mid-August.

“The starting of the year was optimistic with good summer showers that helped to avoid a drought-like condition. But the current harvest is unlikely to be good because of Nematode infection and lack of monsoon rains in early June,” he said.

On the other hand, cardamom exports have increased substantially to 6,500 tonnes from 1,800 tonnes, and the trend is encouraging. The All-India Spices Exporters Forum cited the declining production in Guatemala last year due to the uptrend in exports. This, coupled with a good crop in India during the last season, led to Indian cardamom prices becoming competitive in the world market after a very long time.

“It is still too early to predict crop prospects in Guatemala this year, but India has a window of opportunity between now and October to book orders and make shipments to its main markets in West Asia,” a spokesman of the Forum said.

source: Hindu Business

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