Indian cardamom auctions subjected to scrutiny

Indian cardamom auctions have come under scrutiny following the increase in production of the spice in the country in the last few years, The Economic Times reports.

The country’s Spices Board is pushing for more auctioneers while the existing auctioneers are opposing the suggestion.

The board called for expression of interest to include more auctioneers after the licences of eight agencies that conduct e-auctions six days-a week at Puttady in Kerala and Bodinaikanur in Tamil Nadu expired on August 31. The board did this even though it also extended the licences of the existing agencies for three months.

Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the major producers of small cardamom in India and most of the produce is sold through auctions. The board also called for applications from other states for manual auctions, but the response has been limited.

As an interim measure, the board suggested that state-owned STCL take over auctions. However, this was contested by the present auctioneers in the Kerala High Court, which ordered a status quo until December 11, when there will be final hearing of the case. Meanwhile, the board extended the tenure of the present auctioneers until December 15.

S Kannan, director-finance of the Spices Board told The Economic Times: “We received around two dozen new applications for the post of auctioneers in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Some of these are fake, submitted by the present auctioneers. Out expert committee is meeting on Monday to scrutinise and select the list of new auctioneers before the court hearing,”

According to Kannan, some growers complained that the present auctioneers, who have been in the business for many years, have formed a type of monopoly . “Eight agencies were sufficient when the cardamom production in the country was around 10,000 tonne. But it has now reached around 22,000 tonne and they may not be able to handle it efficiently,” Kannan added.

However, traders argued against this view.

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