Indian cardamom buckles under hefty arrivals at auction centres

INDIAN cardamom prices declined steeply in the week to September 17 due to a substantial increase in arrivals at various auction centres in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and strong selling pressure.

The Business Standard newspaper reported that, for the first time since January, prices fell below the Rs1,000 ($21.30) per kg level to between Rs950 and Rs970 a kg.

In January, the average price of Indian cardamom was Rs1,016 a kg, according to Indian Spices Board data.

Prices went up to Rs1,513 per kg in June, with the best quality cardamom quoted at Rs1,750 a kg then.

The sudden slide in domestic prices triggered panic selling by growers in the Idukki district of Kerala. Growers said they had no option but to sell the produce at the prevailing price, as a further correction was expected.

With the harvesting season at its peak, arrivals at the auction centres are also at their highest levels, so prices have been subjected to downward pressure.

Market sources told the Business Standard that such a decline was never expected, as production had been stagnant for the last two to three years. However, since the local demand for the spice was on a rise, the market expected the average price to be above Rs1,000 a kg.

Cardamom growers want the Indian Spices Board to come to their rescue and announce a floor price for the commodity.

Future crop damage

Meanwhile, heavy rain in most of the plantation areas has damaged a lot of crop, which is likely to impact production in the coming months. Fungus infection is also widespread in areas such as Vandanmedu, Anavilasam,Udumbanchola and Kattappana.

Leading planters told the newspaper production would drop around 15% this season. The average cardamom production in India is 13,500 tonnes a year.

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