Guatemalan cardamom crop on course

GUATEMALA is expecting a healthy cardamom crop this year, despite reports of an earthquake affecting production.

A Guatemalan exporter told that production in 2007 would be higher than last year’s 26,000 tonnes.

A recent report in the Indian Press said that Indian cardamom prices had reached Rs468 ($11.47) a kg, due to reports of an earthquake in Guatemala. However, European cardamom traders said they had heard of no adverse effects on production in Guatemala and an exporter from the central American state said that output was completely unaffected.

“The crop in Guatemala is totally normal and will be excellent; better than the last crop, ” he said.

He added: “Fortunately there are no problems with climate conditions or the earthquake, which have not affected agricultural products or infrastructure.” Guatemala exported 15,000 tonnes of cardamom in the first four months of 2007, he said, compared with exports of 32,000 tonnes for the whole of 2006.

Guatemalan cardamom prices have more than doubled over the last two months, with strong demand reducing stocks.

Guatamalan cardamoms of mixed yellow quality are now quoted at $3,900 a tonne cif, compared with levels of $1,900 around two months ago.

“Prices went up an awful lot because at the end of the old crop there wasn’t much material left, ” a UK importer told  .

High production in Guatemala this year could bring prices down, he said. “If they have a big crop, then prices could come down when harvesting begins, ” he said.

Guatemala begins harvesting the new crop around October. As the only major exporter in the world it dominates the market.

Although India also produces large quantities, this is mainly for domestic consumption. India also imports cardamoms from Guatemala, particularly when domestic production is low.

Guatemala is by far the world’s largest exporter of cardamom. In 2005, of total world exports of 38,973 tonnes, the Central American country shipped 31,643 tonnes.

The next biggest exporter in that year was Indonesia, which shipped 2,898 tonnes, followed by India, which exported 1,971 tonnes.

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